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“I am not amused.”
You know that scene in Clerks where everything goes to hell and the guy shouts, “I’m not even supposed to be here today!” That was me yesterday.
I flew home from a wonderful vacation in Florida Tuesday night knowing full well that my husband would be slaughtering chickens all day Wednesday. Jake has been raising Cornish Cross chickens for months now, and it’s a cool endeavor. They’re pasture raised, healthy chickens, fresh from farm to table. (You can buy one here.)
I’m proud of his project, but I told him, several times, I wanted nothing to do with kill day. I told him, “If I see any blood, we’re going vegetarian and you won’t eat meat for the rest of your life and you’ll be miserable.” I’m threatening when I’m terrified.
My mistake was taking him lunch. I went to Papa John’s. Jake’s pizza was ready, but when the guy pulled it out, he realized he’d forgotten the cheese. This should have been an omen, because what kind of idiot forgets the cheese? Well, what kind of idiot brings her husband lunch when she knows he’s murdering poultry?
I arrived, and Jake asked me to help out—just for a second. He needed my help bagging and labeling seven or eight cleaned carcasses. Clean? Sure, okay. He led me through his processing line like a horse with blinders: “Don’t look over there. There’s blood in the buckets. … And that trashcan is filled with heads. Don’t look in there. … Actually, just stand at this table and stare at the dirt.”
I could hear the living chickens nearby. They clucked and made strange sounds reminiscent of “No, no, no.” I focused on my task at hand. Cleaned chickens were placed in front of me, and I put them in plastic bags. Behind me, I heard Jake’s helpers taking chickens to the kill cones where I knew they would soon have their throats slit.
(“No, no, no!”)
I focused on my bagging, because I’m a good wife. I’m a good wife.
(“No, no, no!!!!!”)
Then, I hear this weird sound behind me, and Brandon (Jake’s pal) cusses. I’m worried Brandon has just cut his finger off. Nay. A chicken has escaped the cone but its neck has already been slit, and it’s flapping and bleeding all over the mother-trucking place.
I drop the damn cleaned chicken I’m bagging and start screaming, followed by unintelligible mutterings and sobs. Jake has to comfort me. He keeps saying, “That’s never happened before.”
The Mexican helpers are looking at me like I’m a crazy white girl. Well, I am a crazy white girl! I didn’t grow up on a farm! I don’t know how to “eviscerate” anything (except maybe a bottle of vodka). I was upset upset UPSET!!!
I left. I went to the grocery store and bought rice, beans, and green vegetables—nothing with meat and nothing red. I was utterly wrathful with my husband for even putting me in the position to see a flapping, screaming, bleeding chicken.
(“No, no, noooooo!!!!”)
Okay, so today, I’m laughing. I told this story to my father earlier, and he was so hysterical with sick amusement, he couldn’t talk. When he could finally breathe again, he said I had to document the chicken incident. So documented.
I keep looking at our egg-laying chickens in the backyard. They’re assholes who peck my toes, but I hope they know how lucky they are, little bastards. Daddy is a chicken killer, but he has spared their scrawny necks.
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By: Ann Rich Duncan,
Hey, I’m back. It’s only been . . . well, months. Have been struggling with getting “Buried Alive!,” John Victor’s second adventure, edited and published. It’s available–right now!–online at Create Space’s Book Store. Finally! But, before I get into that, there’s something exciting (at least for me and possibly for any of you who suffer with insomnia): Over the counter medicine, prescriptions, and the usual suggestions have all failed me. But, there’s a cure that actually works for me! Finally! My long-time friend, Erna D, told me about it on the telephone. You simply need a banana, a small saucepan and some water. Cut both ends of the banana off. (I’m not sure why, but perhaps they’re bitter?). Then place the banana–skin and all–into a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for ten minutes. Then, use the water like tea (I add lots of cream and a little sugar). Tastes great that way if, like me, you like a little bit of tea with your cream and sugar. Anyway, drink your tea that tastes slightly like banana, and eat what you can of the banana–skin and all according to Erna–but with my stomach troubles I don’t bother with the skin. I even mash the banana and add a bit to my tea. Reminds me of the consistency of extra pulp in OJ. I end up falling asleep within half an hour, instead of struggling for two or more hours.
Getting back to “Buried Alive!,” the scene is set near Tucson, Arizona. Our intrepid hero is literally buried alive in a crude cedar coffin somewhere beneath the Sonora Desert. And to make it interesting, his “coffin” is digitally connected to a live radio show. The radio host invites a bevy of professionals to communicate with John Victor, in an effort to pull elusive clues from his memory. Professionals like detectives, profilers, scientists, etc. So they can find him before it’s too late. An endangered plant is the basis for his being found. There are bits of trivia about the Tucson region, and most importantly of all, there’s information about the Bible. Between John Victor and one other character, bits of Biblical information is revealed, including info about prophesies that have actually been fulfilled–the chance for them being fulfilled is astounding–and about faith in its various forms. Like with “The SEED,” John’s first adventure, “Buried Alive!” has intrigue, humor, a touch of romance, and faith-based information. Speaking of “The SEED,” have I mentioned at least a hundred times that it was nominated by a professor for inclusion on Green Mountain College’s required reading list? And that it placed as a top-ten finalist in a national contest? Well, right now, you can find “Buried Alive” by Ann Rich Duncan by Googling Create Space Book Store. It’ll be available thru Amazon.com after April 10. By the way, the ISBN #s are: 13:978-1496055538 and 10: 1496055535. Here’s a pix of the cover:
Jake and I saw Kings of Leon last night. I love them. I listen to them when I’m sad, angry, happy, when I want to dance. I listen to them always. Instead of doing a full concert review, I offer you my favorite of their kick-ass rock songs. And they played all of these last night at the Ak-Chin Pavilion.
They opened with this ditty, hiding behind a curtain that made them look like ten-foot-tall ghosts. A creepy girl shouted from a huge TV screen. Warning: one of their wilder songs that showcases “the scream.”
An extremely sexy song I think is about vampires.
3. Molly’s Chambers
From their first album, back when I first fell in love with my boys. (Look at their hippie hair!!) Now, this is a dance song. This is a sexy woman power dance song.
A melancholy tune that Jake occasionally does for karaoke. They rocked it last night, surrounded by images of flying flame.
Well, it’s called Arizona. How cool is that? I like driving through the desert at night to this song, especially when the stars are out.
6. Back Down South
I want to move back east when I hear this song. I want to move back to Charleston and have an oyster roast.
7. Wait for Me
From the newest album, this one always strikes a chord. I scream the words … and try not to tear up. An affirming song about love and patience.
8. Cold Desert
Save the best for last. When they played this last night, a wave of fake snow fell on the crowd. Talk about theatrics. I might have sobbed a little. I get emotional around music I love, okay?
I picked up a book recently because it’s set in New Orleans. The plot sounded okay, but really, New Orleans. As someone who used to live in the American Lowcountry, I miss the South. As an Anne Rice fan, I feel I’ve visited New Orleans many times, even though I haven’t.
I was excited to start this book, escape the desert for a while, and be lulled into a sensuous stupor by the sights, sounds, and smells of what many consider the most beautiful city in the world.
To say I’ve been disappointed is an understatement. Here’s what I’ve gotten so far: “There was something about New Orleans—something about the air itself—a certain sultriness found nowhere else, that silky touch of humidity on skin like fingertips dragged slowly over your flesh.”
Great! And that was the first line. Since that first line, nothing, nadda. The author could be writing about Wall, South Dakota, and I wouldn’t know. Where is my French Quarter? Where is the overwhelming, sweet scent of magnolia? Where are the horse-drawn buggies for tourists?
I’ll tell you where: in New Orleans. But not in this author’s book.
As a writer, setting is important. In my novels (even in my short stories), the city becomes a character. When I wrote Life without Harry, my readers rejoiced over places they recognized and couldn’t wait to visit places they did not. Same goes for Something about a Ghost, set in Phoenix. You know damn well you’re in Phoenix. You feel the dry heat and smell the spring-blooming orange blossoms. You see the purple-red sunsets, because Phoenix has a persona. Setting should have a persona.
As I mentioned, I was once lucky enough to live in the American Lowcountry. I lived in Charleston, South Carolina (aka “Heaven on Earth”), and the novel I’m writing at present takes place there. An excerpt:
“The air felt crisp, clean, light, and although most of the flowers were long dead, the air still smelled like some sweet bloomer over the usual scent of saltwater and wet sand. He clunked down the metal stairs that led to the ground floor and paused as his boat shoes met grass.
“He walked through the yard and its overabundance of dormant gardenia plants, their waxy leaves still green and lush despite the chill. The Crepe Myrtles at the end of his sidewalk were almost bare, beyond a few dark orange leaves that clung. He pulled a leaf free and held it between his fingers as he took a left and walked down Church Street toward Battery Park.
“He passed the houses where rich people lived, passed their well-kept gardens, their BMWs. He passed over brick roads, beneath the sprawling, wicked arms of Angel Oaks. He paused at Stoll’s Alley, a tiny walkway of brick, overwrought with climbing ivy—one of his usual short cuts—and kept moving until he entered Battery Park, the very tip of the Charleston peninsula.
“He stayed on the edge of the Battery. He stood on the walkway overlooking the harbor with his elbows leaned against the cold metal rail. The sky was cloudy, so the water looked dark green, tumultuous as though a storm would soon arrive. In the distance, he could see Fort Sumter and an American flag that flapped in the wind. There was a wind, a slight one that brushed softly over his face and brought with it the smell of dead fish.”
Do you smell the smells? See the sights? Feel the air? I hope so. I worked hard to take you to Charleston, even if you’ve never been there. This is setting, and for some reason, we’ve forgotten it. We’ve gotten so caught up in plot, character, conflict—but what is a story without a world, a sense of place?
This is a reminder to writers and readers alike: don’t let books get away with weak settings. Don’t be lulled by pretty people. People are but a thin pie slice of what is really happening in a story. Don’t disappoint me. I’ll find you and write about you on my blog.
It sounds like the scenario for a pre-apocalyptic horror/comedy: abandoned chihuahuas breeding out of control, terrorizing part of Arizona. The fact that I first ran across it on a Pocho.com story didn’t help my credulity -- this could be the stuff of satire. But I found the story in other outlets, local television, and even Time.
Some people I told about it laughed, and doubted that tiny dogs could be a real threat.
This brought back an unsettling memory.
Once upon a time, my wife and I worked for a cleaning service. We’re both writers, so getting money can be rough. In this job we were sent to homes and never knew what we’d find. We learned a lot about the private lives of folks who can afford to hire help . . . like the mysterious Mr. Lopez.
His condo was gigantic and looked like it had been the location of month-long drug orgy. We dutifully scrubbed the cocaine/snot residue off of the glass tables, emptied all the ashtrays and hash pipes. Did I mention that Mr. Lopez was a lawyer?
He left instructions for us to clean the sliding glass door, inside and out. The problem was we would have to open it. That would expose us to Mr. Lopez’s dogs.
They were smaller than chihuahuas, and fluffier. We never got a good look at them. They were in constant, rapid motion in that closet-sized yard -- two blurs of long hair and sharp teeth.
The tree trapped out there with them had all the bark chewed off it.
When they saw us, they launched themselves at the sliding glass door slamming into it at face-level. Arf! THUNK! Arf! THUNK! Arf! THUNK! And they did not stop all the time we were there.
The outer side of the door was a thick smear of dog saliva. Yeah, it needed a good cleaning, but no way were going to open that door. And we didn’t.
Mr. Lopez, who neither we nor our boss ever saw in the flesh, was not pleased. He did not pay for our services. He was a lawyer.
Emily and I still wonder what the hell those dogs were, and where he got them.
But then, this is Aztlán, and we have some strange dogs here, like the chihuahua, and the xoloitzcuintli.
Diego Rivera holding a xoloitzcuintli:
The English-speaking world calls the xoloitzcuintli the Mexican hairless. They still have trouble wrapping their tongues around Nahutal. It may be a while before the xoloitzcuintli becomes as popular as the chihuahua, since it’s not what Western civilization considers beautiful.
Granted, the Nahuatl name translates to monster dog -- so the Aztecs didn’t think it was cute either. You mostly see it in news stories about ugly dog contests.
Something I’ve found interesting is a resemblance to the chupacabras, or at least the Texas blue dogs that in the last few years have been photographed, killed, and called chupacabras. It has the same purple-grey, hairless skin, though it's bigger, with larger fangs. The news stories keep coming in, but what are they, and where did they come from?
Once again Pocho.com put me on the trail to a possible answer via the Houston Chronicle: “Houston animal control officials said they have heard of people trying to breed dogs that look like so-called direwolves from the TV show Game of Thrones.”
Homegrown mad scientists are out there, doing their damedest to make sci-fi into reality. Some of them probably live in the barrio.
Meanwhile, in my neighborhood, there are más y más badass chihuahuas strutting the streets.
But then, Aztlán is the land of the Chichimec -- a generic term the Aztecs used like barbarian that literally translates to dog people, the strangest dogs of all.
Last week, we celebrated the veto of a ridiculous discrimination bill (SB 1062), which means (yay) I don’t have to leave the state. On a personal note, I received word that my first published work of 2014 will be my short story “Don’t Ball the Boss”—an audacious gay romance about a celeb and his PA.
Finally, though (and come on, most importantly), last Thursday was Dallas Arizona’s birthday. I met Dallas a couple years ago. He’s probably the most famous gay guy in Phoenix and not only because he’s hot but because he’s sweet and he can dance. He dances often, all over the city, but my favorite venue for a good old Dallas time is at Ice Pics Video Bar on McDowell.
The place looks scary from the outside because there are no windows, and the front door is sort of hard to find. Whenever I’ve gone there, I’m one of the only chicks; seriously, you can hear crickets singing when I walk in the front door.
Ice Pics is dark on purpose. Inside, there are TV screens everywhere, playing clips of old musicals and current music videos. There’s a dance floor and stage. They have indecently cheap drinks. And despite the fact that my girlfriends and I are usually the only chicks, we feel welcome.
The thing I’ve realized about Ice Pics: you have to come prepared. The friendliness of its clientele can be truly overwhelming. Case in point: Thursday, Dallas’s birthday. As soon as I saw Dallas (who was wearing nothing but fluorescent yellow underwear stuffed with dollar bills, of course), I was wrapped in a huge hug and my picture was taken. I was introduced around, hugged some more.
I’m in there somewhere …
I soon had gay boys circling me like friendly, smiling sharks. They wanted to talk about my outfit, my hair, my body, my lipstick. If you don’t take a complement well, do not go to Ice Pics. You will shrivel and pass out under the adoring scrutiny of the men inside.
When I go to Ice Pics, I feel like I’m on vacation—and, it seems, so does everyone else. There is long, loud laughter and sudden, unexpected stage performances by Dallas and his crew. One second, you’re outside talking to a strange, tall boy in multi-colored skivvies. The next, you’re inside, and Dallas is in a wig and glitter, dancing to the Bee Gees. Next, you’re on stage, too! You just never know.
Last week, we in Arizona celebrated the epic failure of a disgusting piece of legislature, but we also celebrated Dallas. I’m happy to know him, and I’m happy to live in a place with a pretty rocking gay scene.
Review: Sabrina Vourvoulias. Ink. Somerville MA: Crossed Genres Publications, 2012.
ISBN-13: 978-0615657813 ISBN-10: 0615657818
In my neck of the woods, Pasadena Califas, birder excitement flies high with recent sightings of the rara avis, Least Bell’s Vireo. I’m a birder, and I’m excited at the prospect of renting a long lens and traipsing out to the wash next door to JPL to expose a few frames of this endangered species.
But that’s not what I’m most excited about right now. It’s the growing population
of Chicana Chicano speculative fiction finding its way to bookstores and downloads.
Not that raza literature hasn’t long contained fantasy and out-of-this-world elements—think of the dead baby in Ana Castillo’s So Far From God
who flies out of her coffin up to the rafters. Then there’s “magic realism,” a term some exogenous critic planted upon stuff the critic couldn't tolerate or didn't fully understand. Such writing bears no dissonance for raza writers and readers, whose tolerance for fantastic experience results from quotidian cultural experience, e.g. DDLM, Juan Diego and la Virgen, el cucuy.
Per some critics, "magic realism" is a worldwide movement. Yet, it’s still possible that one’s life-list of Chicana Chicano speclit sightings can include every specimen of the genre. Which is changing: the growth of Chicana Chicano speculative fiction / science fiction / fantasy / horror is as exciting news as spotting a tree full of Least Bell’s Vireo.
Books, unlike birds, don’t end up extinct, glass-eyed and stuffed behind plexi in some dusty museo display case. Books can be resurrected. For example, Bloguero Ernest Hogan--among the earliest practitioners of the art—recently began recasting his rare titles into eBook forms, as he’s recounted in his La Bloga Chicanonautica
And slowly but inexorably, new titles are finding their way through publisher back rooms into the light of day. A few years ago, now-defunct publisher Calaca Press advanced the puro sci-fi Lunar Braceros on the Moon 2125-2148
. In addition to Hogan, Blogueros Daniel Olivas and Rudy Garcia, are doing their part to keep spec alive. There’s Olivas’ gem, Devil Tales
, and Garcia’s currently touring novel Closet of Discarded Dreams.
The most recent newcomer to the speclit ranks is Sabrina Vourvoulias with an edge-of-your-seat dystopic novel, Ink.
In a tea bagger fantasy world, raza and immigrants from America, Asia, Caribe, Africa, wind up on the losing end of a U.S. civil war that cleaved the democracy into castes of citizens, non-citizen aliens, and “inks.”
Inks wear tattoos branding their country of origin and status, and have chips implanted in their necks to facilitate GPS tracking. “Show me your wrist” has replaced “show me your papers.”
But such profound measures hardly satisfy the most avid baggers. Gangs of crackers roam the streets, kidnapping inks to deport them into Mexico, with a wink from law and ordure.
A great story aside, the key to a successful speculative piece is linking the unknown to the known, constructing the fiction over a framework of actuality. For Vourvoulias this means a world where street gangs have gone corporate; where wingnuts control government but not the hearts and minds of all the gente; where private prisons run rampant; where technology is boon and bane and Ink-detecting devices are as widely available as iPods.
The odds stack heavily against them, but Inks fight back, supported by gente decente like Maryknoll priests, youths, congregants, artists, and artificial skin. The conflict driving the novel will fill readers with dismay, seeing parallels between what has already taken place—Japanese locked in concentration camps, narcos controlling swaths of territory in Mexico, rednecks with power—and the novel’s permutations of today’s ugly commonplaces.
In Vourvoulias' most delighting turn, she gives her Inks nahuales: panther, jaguar, bee spirits, or evil dwarves. These spirits jump in and out their dimension to comfort, rescue, or attack, their endangered Ink. With this dual dimensions set-up, the author develops her agon in suspenseful parallels between the bleeding dystopia and the engaged dimension of spirits.
The author skillfully avoids nagual-ex-machina devices except when absolutely required. The presence of one’s nahual isn’t enough to prevent a rape, nor save some souls. Vourvoulias is not reluctant to brutalize or kill her characters, nor subject them to unspeakable torture at the hands of depraved racists. But I repeat myself.
The United States has devolved into a living Hell for decent folk, and all Inks. Readers who allow themselves to be drawn into the fantasy will find Sabrina Vourvoulias’ story both depressing and constantly arresting, enjoying several surprises along the route. In the end comes an inkling of hopefulness for disbanding the tea bagger hold on liberty, but that’s not certain. Vourvoulias won’t let you off that easy.
The publisher distributes a book book and an electronic one. Whichever a reader elects, Ink’s
compelling story drives itself effortlessly, and a reader likely will devour it within a day or two. Ink
is fun, and scary as can be. Of course, that's the point of speculative fiction. Can it happen here? A little birdy tells me the known of this novel offers compelling evidence that Ink’s
world certainly could, and as current events illustrate, that world is lumbering toward Washington DC to be born.
Banned Books Update
The books are still banned. Tucson's school board gave a vote of confidence to the jefe in charge of banning books, along with a nice salary increase. SB 1070's "show me your papers" got a court go-ahead. Joe Arpaio's re-election campaign advances toward victory.
It's ugly out there. Vote like your freedom depends on it.La Bloga On-Line Floricanto Two Ten Twelve
Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Maurisa Thompson, Kris Barney, Devreaux Baker, Jabez W. Churchill
“Occupied America” by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
“We Did Not Build Pyramids with Words that Feared Our Skin” by Maurisa Thompson
“What Will It Take?” by Kris Barney
“Recipe for Peace” by Devreaux Baker
“El Procesional” por Jabez W. Churchill
“Processional” by Jabez W. ChurchillOccupied Americaby Odilia Galván Rodríguez
in their heads
stuck in screens
the iOnly CU
who'd rather text
their talking fingers
into the ether
O occupied America
so sick of who's at war
or don't care and
what new doom will
the yarn spinners spin
what Hollywood or TV
drama will they foist
on the eye glued
will they cower
in fear then
their death flag
who will win
the next elections
can we can leave
the driving to them
after all don't cha know
the One Percent
has it rigged
with new fangled
voter fraud schemes
the old ones too
like show me your papers
while the dead still
rise from their graves
every four years to
pull the lever
at the voting box
the great computers
calculating the numbers
in the chosen ones favor
who will it be
as if there
were really a choice
lift your voice
in a different way
take to the streets
and yell your stories
no matter how dumb
you think it is
leave your smart phone
Copyright 2012 Odilia Galván RodríguezWe Did Not Build Pyramids with Words that Feared Our Skinby Maurisa ThompsonSister We did not build pyramids with words that feared our skinWe did not bear entire nations ashamed of the cadence of our hips
the white parent in us
so many ways absent
your father left your mother nursing
you with stories she spoke in Spanish
middle passages coast island migrations
arms of earth always around you
you carried them in this country
talismans on your full lips
my mother’s subconscious praises
for baby blue blue eyes
a classmate’s complexion
all lovely pale and flushed
willowed legs slender thighs
her own hands mute awkward
they were scarred by a lifetime
of dick and jane and sameness
she struggled to hold my difference
in any form of embrace
I could not begin to say these things
until you gave me words beyond
textbooks beyond negro y blanco
eased the secret knot open
trigueña—color of wheat
beneath the nightfall of your hair
morenasa—first word that loved me
beautiful dark woman
the sound rippling gently through
the letters of my own name
what language still throbs
within our mingled bloods
Nele muu ina Oju inun ashe
come we must find and weave it
tuck its medicine in our pockets
I seek each time I glimpse
lightning behind my closed eyes
after years in this body
I know at least the beginningWe did not bear entire nations ashamed of the cadence of our hipsWe did not build pyramids with words that feared our skin
Copyright 2012 Maurisa Thompson
What Will It Take?by Kris Barney
i burn cedar tonight
and lightning flickers all around the house
thunder booms and rumbles and
i think of yei dancers whose
voices and rattles will sound on
a night like tonight
after the frost melts into the earth
after all vegetation dies back and
aspens and cottonwoods turn yellow
Cedar smoke circles my body as
i rub the smoke on my heart with an eagle feather
as i watch every movement of
smoke wash over my face and my hands and
the fleeting moments that
burn and fade like
ponderosa logs on the fire and
i am tired of praying
i want something more to happen
i want my people to find the strength
inside them to do something
to address or to protect or to
regain honor in my eyes
i want to send a call to every warrior
every man or woman who loves
his/her family and
how tough can it be to say enough is enough?
how hard is it to stand strong in unity?
how hard is it to stand up
to speak up
to have courage?
or are we just too ill with colonial post trauma and
images of failed attempts to defend and resist?
do we give up or do we just endure
long enough to become another
commodity for corporate disposal?
So my people medicate themselves
be it NAC pills Marijuana Reds Whites and Blues or
wine bottles smashed against windshields and skulls
the webbed nets of disease and dysfunction
dreams bred out of anarchy and alchemy and
this song that runs wild in the purple red neon
as the blood hits the wind and
eyes are the doorways and
i lick i look
i fool myself with your smile and
the beads of sweat that collects down the curves
of your body as i kiss you into the night
and the constellations are the only ones
who hear our voices and white puffs of breath like
dancers painted white dancing by moon star and
i hold you closer and breathe in your smell as
suns rise and set and
i hear the hoof beat of horses and
i can taste the rain in my sleep and
rivers running across the desert and
mountains where the deer stop to watch
our passing and hawks circle into
the red iris of the sun
and i walked
and i ran
and i asked questions to the clouds and
rain confirmed in recognition
in voices as old as the ocean and
i drank from water clear and cold
glacier melt water and ice cold streams that
mourn for salmon and
the men and women who weep
my brothers and sisters who weep
our children who weep for parents who are too
traumatized by colonial gods and demons and
rumors of eternity
Our elders weep
silently in nursing homes or
prisons and mourn for the
beauty of their youth or
for relatives long dead
the stories that cannot
be translated into English
stories images and
memories hidden in the blood
on every highway
on every street downtown every city
on every metro train that connects
above to below
on every dirt road where children
board buses or airplanes and die for
wars created by the
wealth and gluttony of greed and
ones who suck the life
out of every living system of life
and i hear the wailing of rivers
whole rainforests and indigenous tribal relatives
fighting death and dams with arrows and spears
and all the marked and unmarked graves
unearthed by stripmine shovels and those who
rob the dead
those who sell trade and barter whole
corpses and the bone fragments
that line museum walls or
spark intelligent and curious
conversations at dinner tables
give rise to festive occasions and
celebrations of the
opening of another new strip mall
another ski resort
another oil rig
another mountaintop stripmine
another copper mine
another diamond mine
another uranium mine
another mine where they
mine and drain the blood out of
the bodies of babies and aquifers and
the dust and smoke of charred human remains
settle after wars for natural resources have claimed
another hundred thousand or half million to million
the lives of the innocent cemented to the lenses of
journalists and scenes that the media
only wants you to see and voices
crushed like how they crushed infant
skulls on the sides of kivas or pit houses or
hogans or long house walls
the blood always runs cleaner on the other side
so they say in the written history in every
where the guilt of massacres and genocide
is weighed and bought
by stock market trends and
designer shoes and bleached blonde images
emulated by every modern Native out there
who's impressed by the illusions of the
american dreams and promises of prosperity
those of my people who would sell more
than their souls just
to get him/her a piece of the action
and the blood of the
innocent continues to run when
you are able to deceive those who
dare not think for themselves or think
intellectually and really put it all out there
for the world to see but
images are not enough in today's america
images have not enough value or intrinsic value and
what price can really be put on
and here i look at the
black silhouette of the mountain
behind my house
i am immersed in the
melodies of this wind and
i think of life
all the lives of this earth
all the millions of ancestors and relatives
all the lives of animals
genetically generically modified plant life
the mass murders
the modern mass global extinctions
the crimes against humanity
the crimes against creation
the crimes and murders against
every living thing
every living breathing entity and
yet my people do nothing
but make excuses and
tell me to pray more or
to be more humble
or tell me to come into the fold of their religions or
to go into some deep part of the world and
find something to distract myself from
the horrors of reality
the wombs of creation and
i sometimes listen
i look to clouds and wind for inspiration and
i dare to question and i have yet to ask of
them for help
i have yet to crank things up a notch
i have yet to lay it all out on the line
i have yet to make things happen and
so i burn cedar tonight
i think of all my loved ones
i think of the recently deceased
i think of all the animals
i think of all my people and relatives
i will not pray for you all
a part of me is tired of praying
of going through the motions of prayer and song
i am tired
i have walked but i have not walked far enough
i have prayed
my feet have bled
my heart has been broken
my body is beaten but my spirit
i have no song to sing
no offering stronger than my
own blood to give
i walk now
surrounded by clouds
dark blue and deep purple and
a silver blue moon and this rain which
washes over my skin and i
sit on this hill and i watch the lightning far off
i watch it twist and bend and
the thunder booms in a voice
i have known all my life and
i have no tobacco
no corn pollen
no eagle plumes
no words to comfort me here and now
but only my two hands my two feet and
the scent of cedar smoke close to my chest
and this road of possibility
this lightning that
Copyright 2012 Kris Barney
Recipe for Peaceby Devreaux Baker
Bare your feet
roll up your sleeves
oil the immigrant's bowl
open the doors and windows of your house
invite in the neighbors
invite in strangers off the street
roll out the dough
add spices for a good life
cardamon and soul
cumin and tears
sesame and sorrow
add a dash of salt
pink as new hope
add marjaram and thyme
rub lemon grass and holy basil
on your fingers and pat the dough
bless the table
bless the bread
bless your hands and feet
bless the neighbors and strangers off the street
bake the bread for a century or more
on moderate heat
under the olive trees in your back yard
or on the sun filled stones of Syria
in the white rocks of Beirut
or behind the walls of Jerusalem
in the mountains of Afghanistan
and in the sky scrapers of New York
Feast with all the migrant tongues
until your mouth understands
the taste of many different homes
and your belly is full
so you fall asleep cradled
in the skirts of the world
in the lap of peace.
Copyright 2012 Devreaux Baker El Procesionalpor Jabez W. Churchill
La llevo encima de la cruz
arriba de mis hombros,
botas negras y medias de red
hasta el pelo tenido de henna.
No se baja.
fantoches vanos por las calles.
Ni puedo yo,
bajarla a abrazar.
carroza alegorica de uno,
penitente y su Maria Magdalena
por el camino.
Solo el rastro pasado del amor,
condones gastados a los pies,
promesa de noche sin luna,
mi Santa muda
Copyright 2012 Jabez W. ChurchillProcessionalby Jabez W. Churchill
I carry her upon a cross
above my shoulders,
black boots and fishnet stockings
up to her dyed henna hair.
She will not come down.
Already been there,
vain caricatures along the streets.
Nor can I,
a fallen idol,
put her down.
We carry on,
allegory of one,
a penitent and his Mary Magdalene,
upon the highway.
Only the faded scent of love,
used condoms at my feet,
promise of a moonless sky,
my Guardian Angel, silent,
Copyright 2012 Jabez W. ChurchillBIOS
Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet/activist, writer and editor, has been involved in social justice organizing and helping people find their creative and spiritual voice for over two decades. Odilia is one of the original members and a moderator, of Poets Responding to SB 1070 on Facebook. She teaches creative writing workshops nationally, currently at Casa Latina, and also co-hosts, "Poetry Express" a weekly open mike with featured poets, in Berkeley, CA. For more information about workshops see her blog http://xhiuayotl.blogspot.com/
or contact her through Red Earth Productions & Cultural Work 510-343-3693.
Maurisa Thompson was born and raised in San Francisco, where she began writing poetry with her spelling words in 4th grade. She graduated from Swarthmore College, where she studied creative writing, and UC Berkeley, where she earned her M.A. in Education. She is a former student-teacher-poet of June Jordan's Poetry for the People, where she learned that "poetry means taking control of the language of your life," and that poetry can create what Jordan called "the beloved community," in which people from different backgrounds can come together and learn from one another while healing and addressing injustice. She currently works as a literacy teacher in San Francisco, and as as an editorial assistant for the Black Scholar: Journal of Black Studies and Research and the Black Scholar Press. She is member of Librotraficante BayArea Califas, a local chapter of a national movement of poets and writers raising awareness of the Ethnic Studies ban in Arizona through public readings and activism around the banned books. Her published poems can be found in The Pedestal Magazine and Caxixi: International Capoeira Angola Foundation Newsletter.
Devreaux Baker has published three books of poetry. Her most recent, Red Willow People, was awarded a 2011 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award. She is the recipient of a 2012 Hawaii Council on Humanities International Poetry Award and a 2012 Women's Global Leadership Initiative Poetry Award. Her poetry has been widely published in literary journals including most recently; ZYZZYVA, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, La Bloga, Crab Orchard Review, New Millenium Writing, Albatross, Mas Tequila Review, Liberty’s Vigil: The Occupy Anthology 99 Poets among the 99%, and Occupy SF Poems from the movement.
Review: Santino J. Rivera, ed. ¡Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature. Saint Augustine, FL, 2012. ISBN-10: 0615607306 ISBN-13: 978-0615607306
A literary anthology can be a snapshot or a portrait. Both supply value. Some snapshots present a marvelous glimpse of what the world looks like in that 1/250th second slice of time. Here, time and light come to a halt in mid act with no inkling if unheard pipes will trill or squeal. A studied portrait, in contrast, represents an artist’s determination to expose depth of character, make a significant statement about time and idea through an image that reaches beyond that 1/250th of a second exposure, out of the future through the present and into the past.
¡Ban This! is a snapshot. Editor Santino J. Rivera cast a wide net and attracts dozens of new and emerging voices. Rivera buttresses the nouveau with the solid quality of several well-respected artists. In putting the collection together, as any editor, Rivera treads a hazy line between all the stuff that’s fit to print and selecting only superb exemplars of the best stuff.
Aside from making a great gift,¡Ban This! will occupy a valued space in anyone’s reference shelves. The collection has some literary gems, particularly among the poets and a couple of de rigueur essays. The editor believes the collection informs a notion of an arroba aesthetic, that weird spelling that supplants gender inflection with unpronounceability. This aesthetic finds a tongue with the publisher’s disclaimer, that the company “assumes no liability should you get your feelings hurt. Except you. And you. And you, too.” The attitude is more the editor’s than most of the collected writers.
Do Xicanarrobas bleed politics, nurture anger, shake fists at power structures, live for confrontation? Not really. The editor makes a big deal about orthography and readers like me who reject that arroba barbarism. Then he avoids analysis, deferring to the contents of the anthology as the “definition” of “Xican@” literature.
What then, to make of a Chicana writer like Gina Ruiz, who wants to be funny? Ruiz’ playful fiction “Chanclas and Aliens” blends barrio iconography with weird science and the familiar refrain no good deed goes unpunished. Another writer, Xicano X gets wrapped up in his own hang-ups and strives to be offensive as a strategy for getting attention through asco and scatology. Where is the arroba aesthetic in that?
Despite the editorial shortcoming, ¡Ban This!
makes a valuable contribution to a bookshelf or library. Rivera’s assembled a magnificent variety of work valuable for the breadth of coverage, from poem to political science to science fiction to anthropology and history.
Half the book’s 332 pages publish short poems. Opting for quality, the first two poets out the gate are Francisco X. Alarcón and Luis Urrea.
Alarcón’s bilingual work features intricate architecture that defies conventional use of the page. Instead, an Alarcón poem may be read from left to right or top to bottom, or alternatively, read an English stanza then its corresponding Spanish stanza, plus the left/right/top/bottom opportunity. Alarcón invests his poems with multiple possibilities and resources, at once thoughtful and diverting.
Urrea’s lead poem, “Arizona Lamentation,” is a spectacularly difficult poem. Opening with the strident phrase, “We were happy here before they came”, the persona expresses resentment of newcomers. Except the persona speaks in an anglo voice, projecting fantasy history onto the land, “Then their envy, their racial hatred / Made us build a border fence / To protect our children. / But they kept coming.” Just as the alarmed reader is about to toss the book out the window at that crud, the persona shifts, “But their wagons kept coming and coming. / And their soldiers.” And in closing, the one voice again becomes displaced by the other, while between the lines their sentiments echo one another’s fears. What an intractable mess.
Oddly positioned, near the end but not the final piece, is Odilia Galván Rodriguez’ title piece, “¡Ban This!” The piece reflects well off Urrea’s. Spoken in a raza voice, Rodriguez’ poem is one of puro affirmation. Addressing book banners, the poem illuminates qualities and beliefs supporting raza peoplehood, not a subversion of the anglo internal colony. The poet’s restrained anger sounds loud and clear. It doesn’t need a gimmick, an “X” or an arroba, to declare unequivocally, “words live / we remember / them, our love, our stories ~ / history, cannot be erased / not banned”
Chicanas Chicanos write a lot of poetry. Maybe that’s why ¡Ban This!
has such a heavy proportion of it. The prose work--fiction, memoir, essay—offers a rich potpourri of information, but suffers from editorial neglect. As an editor, Rivera needed to get after sloppy spelling and stilted construction. Instead, it appears the editor simply cut and pasted submissions, favoring laissez-faire publication rather than exercise the editorial authority writers deserve.
Two seminal essays merit widespread reading. Roberto “Dr. Cintli” Rodriguez’ “From Manifest Destiny to Manifest Insanity,” and Rodolfo Acuña’s “Giving Hypocrisy a Bad Name: Censorship in Tucson.” The essays are scholarly, and entirely readable. That’s less true of other prose work in the collection.
David Cid’s “Silent No Longer: The Visual Poetic Resistance of Chicana/o Cinema in the Experimental Films of Frances Salomé España” is a recycled term paper. Cid gives interesting information but it’s nearly indigestible owing to that seminar paper style. Cid promotes the “Chicana / o” construction, rather than the arroba. In one sentence the trick gets away from Cid and his editor; one woman is labeled a “Chicana / o”.
Del Zamora’s Los Angeles Times piece, “Where Are The Latinos In Films, TV?” is one of those pointless Op-Ed pieces that complains only to close with irony instead of constructive ideas. “It’s either that or stop purchasing tickets and renting videos of movies and television shows that do not include us. After all, as one Hollywood executive explained to me, ‘We don’t have to put you in movies…there were no Latinos in Gotham City and you still came.”
Miguel Jimenez, “Veterans Empathize: HB2281 and The Attack On Mexican History And Culture” illustrates the cyclical nature of Chicana Chicano history. Jimenez’ memoir of his Iraq service echoes draft-era complaints that military service validates one’s identity as a Unitedstatesian, even in the face of rejection and exclusion.
Maria Teresa Ceseña brings a homily on self-identity, “The Turtle Caught in the Fire.” She opens with a powerfully composed non-fiction equivalent of spoken word art. Here Ceseña the academica advances a feminist rationale she defines as “oppositional consciousness”. She follows that introduction with her poem, “Piecing It Together,” then spins off from there describing a life experience in much the ways anthologies describe the status of a literature. Put the shards together under a blazing sun and for one moment achieve a freeze frame of where everything is, in relation to anything else. Except the point of the essay curiously is about giving up. Ceseña encourages dreamers that it’s never too late to change by giving up an old dream in view of what’s hot right now.
This reader is grateful for the end-wrapper from Mario Barrera, “Science and Religion in a Border Town,” a generous helping of humor to lighten the weight of the deadly earnest essayists who’ve preceded Barrera’s memoir.
Andrea J. Serrano's "Lament" exemplifies how Chicanas Chicanos respond to banning books. Not with a big knife in a steady hand, but a broken heart and a loaded ink pen.
Frank Sifuentes Moving On
La Bloga friend Frank Sifuentes' body is shutting down, surrounded by love and family, as it should be.
Frank's daughter sends along her father's news. I'm sure Frank would have preferred to deliver the news en propria persona, with a joke and a winding tale with a twist at the end. Nos wachamos, Frank.
Pictured below is Frank during a tense moment at the 1973 Festival de Flor y Canto. Frank coordinated the event and was flying high, energized surrounded by so many artists, feeding off the energy in the green room and being out among 'em in the jam-packed audience.
The crisis. Oscar Zeta Acosta refuses to go inside, where a full house awaits the Brown Buffalo's reading. Outside, spectators mill about in panicky unease. The door opens and Frank steps outside. Zeta explains his refusal to go on. They negotiate and Zeta enters to take the stage.
|Tomás Atencio, Frank Sifuentes, Alurista, Oscar Acosta.|
Juan Felipe Herrera in background, and unidentified USC co-ed.
© michael v. sedano
A few years back, Frank laughed about the whole pedo. What he remembered better, albeit hazily, was his wild all-night drive through the streets of Aztlán. Frank, rrsalinas, Ricardo Sánchez doing tourist tripping, eventually evading cops on a memorable journey across LA to Acosta's pad.
Ay, Frank, so many stories, so little time.
Here's Frank at the 2010 Festival de Flor y Canto. Yesterday • Today • Tomorrow
, that reunited dozens of artists from that first Festival de Flor y Canto.
You can hear Frank read at 1973's floricanto by visiting the USC Digital Library
archive.MailbagBarrios Interviews Junot Diaz
La Bloga friend Gregg Barrios
advises his recent interview with author-on-the-ascendancy Junot Diaz is at the Los Angeles Review of Books
It's a rewarding interview between two long-time compañeros, for, as Barrios points out:
Reading Díaz is to discover a new voice in American lit that continually amazes as it informs, his text a vast storehouse of literary references, footnotes, and genre-bending throwaways. His groundbreaking use of Spanish without italics or translation is deeply refreshing to Latino readers, as it is to any reader who recognizes it as part and parcel to the bilingual Latino experience. Closet of Discarded Dreams at Tia Chucha's September 14
Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural and Bookstore hosts bloguero and La Bloga founder Rudy Garcia on Sunday, October 14 starting at 2:00 p.m. Located at 13197-A Gladstone Ave, Sylmar, California, the popular bookseller and events headquarters provides a welcome atmosphere for a steady parade of writers.
Garcia will be at the Latino Book & Family Festival on Saturday, as noted in Monday's Daniel Olivas column.On-Line Floricanto for Nine Ten Twelve
Joe Navarro, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Fernando Rodríguez, Tracy Corey, Victor Avila
“It Must Be the Chicano In Me” Joe Navarro
“Search and Recovery” Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
“Indocumentado” Fernando Rodríguez
“Listen” Tracy Corey
“Ban This Poem!” Victor AvilaIt Must Be the Chicano In MeJoe Navarro
It must be the Chicano in me
But when I listen to the music of
Lila Downs singing from the depths
Of her soul or Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan
From Jalisco, the land of my ancestors
Celebrating el 16 de septiembre
I feel proud to be me
When campesinos demand fair wages
That their invisible hands have earned
Or when people openly declare,
“I am undocumented!” fearlessly
Yet knowing they will be forcibly
Detached from the only lives they know
I feel their plight and injuries
When I hear La Raza speaking
English, Spanish and Spanglish
At the mercado or in the park
And when I see mothers bringing
Their children to school in one hand
With younger siblings in strollers
I feel at home in my comunidad
At every tardeada, fiesta, baile or concierto
Where people dance and enjoy music
At marches where workers honor the
Tradition May Day and workers’ rights
At every gathering that honors heroes
Martyrs and luchas for human dignity
I feel the aspirations of my people
I extract pride from holidays
Inspired by people’s desires for
Self-determination and independence
And from magnificent murals and poemas
Honoring our indigenous traditions
And struggles to escape domination
…It must be the Chicano in me Search and RecoveryXochitl-Julisa Bermejofor Brooke
is not like search and rescue, not like the 10 o’clock news,
not like blond daughters sucked out through windows
in the dark night. There is no line of volunteers
combing the woods at the edge of a peach town,
no fleet of police dragging the lake, no pencil sketches
or time-stamped videos of dark men in black hoodies,
no midnight vigils blurred by hundreds of burning white candles,
no posters, no milk cartons, and no alerts.
There is plenty of desert silence between two women
scaling the Atascosa mountains like two specs of dust.
They search for a young man shot by his coyote and discarded
by a wash with cement blocks and black kites fallen from the sky,
or maybe black tires taken from a truck. They exhaust
unreliable reports in a futile act of deciphering hazy, hot landmarks.
They hike and carry what supplies they can slung over backs:
extra water, socks, electrolyte pills, a couple of apples, peanut butter.
Before the sunsets, they set up camp beneath the sky
and wait for the sun to rise so they can try again.
In the day, they search for what remains,
In the night, they fear what remains will look like,
and each woman secretly holds hope close to her chest
that if she crosses a bundle tomorrow, it will once again be branches. IndocumentadoFernando Rodríguez
Colgué el teléfono y una lagrima rodo
Del otro lado de la bocina mi hijo el mas pequeño
Aun residen en México,
Como quisiera poder abrazarlos,
La vida si que es dura
No se puede tener todo
Pero valdrá la pena, si le hecho ganas y me supero
Al colgar ese teléfono
Le pedí a mi dios valor, fuerza y paciencia
Para lograr lo que el güero tiene
Su familia a su lado
Veo como todos los días gente se divorcia, separa y junta
Sin saber el verdadero valor de una familia
Sin entender la dedicación,
Yo no soy nadie pa’ juzgar
Solo relato mi versión
Mañana es lunes y otro día de trabajo
Otra vez me la rifo manejando
Iremos para el campo
Pizcando paso mi vida
Para ganarme la plata
Con la que vive mi familia
En mi pobre tierra mexicana
La vida no vale nada
Y menos acá
La gente le da importancia
A un pedazo de papel
Que a la misma vida
El cuello blanco controla todo
Sin ensuciarse las manos,
Un simple campesino
Que me ensucio de barro
¡No controlo nada!
Tiene más poder un perro
Por tener esos papeles
Desearía ser importante
Para ayudar a mi gente
El teléfono acorta y alarga mi dolor
Escucho a mis seres queridos
Pero no los puedo abrazar
Tengo que ser conformista
Para poder aguantar
La dificultad no es vida
Pero no hay para mas…ListenTracy Corey ~ for my grandmother, Almira Miller (1924-2011)
Listen to your grandmothers. They are the voices
of your bones whispering to your wings
before grace has found you. When she warned
of that boy, hear her history, and when she closed
her eyes and kissed the baby, see her heart
wink at her feet for the blisters that delivered such beauty.
Listen to her cooking, informing you of the beauty,
of the beaches and the barrios that feed the voices
calling from the winding roads that lead to her heart
and breathe through her veins, giving air to her wings
that felt, when the nights got so dark, a longing that closed
the days with a notion of something that warned
her to listen. And when she did, she was warned
of a life begun again in subtitles, but a life of beauty
without the hardship of hungry days and closed
borders where her children spoke with their voices
bouncing in boxes rather than sailing on wings
that aren’t too heavy from the days to beat in the heart
that can listen because it can hear. And planted in her heart
she wrapped the deepest seeds of home’s garden, warned
of the days when nothing would feel so urgent as wings
to take her home, to the backbone of beauty,
and even the sorrow, just for the familiar voices,
enough to sometimes make you forget the closed
borders. Listen to the seeds she wrapped in the closed
petals of the bright flowers she planted in her heart
and you’ll hear the stories of so many, their voices
building a homesick choir that when warned
of wasted despair all they can recite is, “Beauty
is beauty, even when it flies on broken wings.”
Listen to their song, delivered on the aging wings
of your grandmothers, who know the secret to closed
borders is traveling hand-in-hand with beauty
in the exploding seeds of home’s garden, the heart.
And just for good measure, let despair be warned,
the secret is carried in the many voices
of secret-keepers who, despite being warned
by sorrow, listen to history and sing with their wings.Ban This Poem!Victor Avila
Before it is read
And the seed of its ideas spread-
Ban this poem.
For though subtle and unassuming
Consider this a warning
for those hard of heart and fearful of change.
Ban this poem-
Create a law and demand it!
Or it will be a curse to those who live by the tenets of hate.
Xenophobes and war-mongers
this is your chance
to rip up these thoughts before they escape.
Yes, ban this poem
before it is nailed into the door of our consciousness
or a transmutation will take place.
It will certainly gain entrance
and disrupt the lives
of those wrapped up in a barbed wire embrace.
For it does what a poem
is supposed to do
and tap into a humanity we thought once lost.
It is a glimmer of new awakenings,
and a fulcrum of tolerance.
It is a blanket for the homeless should the cold set in.
So ban this poem-It is dangerous.
And out of place with society's values.
Lock it up in the darkest of prisons for it is a contagion of enlightenment...
...And a missive of acceptance...a dispatch of hope.
So ban this poem.
YES, BAN THIS POEM!!!BIOS
Joe Navarro, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Fernando Rodríguez, Tracy Corey, Victor Avila
“It Must Be the Chicano In Me” Joe Navarro
“Search and Recovery” Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
“Indocumentado” Fernando Rodríguez
“Listen” Tracy Corey
“Ban This Poem!” Victor Avila
is a literary vato loco, teacher, poet, creative writer, husband, father and grandfather who currently lives in Hollister, CA. Joe integrates his poetic voice with life's experiences, and blends culture with politics. His poetic influences include the Beat Poets, The Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Alurista, Gloria Anzaldua, Lalo Delgado and numerous others.Fernando Rodriguez
writes from Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. He is a 25 year old poet who believes in freedom, equality and despite racism in any of its many forms. This poem was written to create conscience about suffering of immigrants in this land.Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
is a high school teacher and native Angeleno. She is the creator and curator of Beyond Baroque’s monthly reading series Hitched and was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Award. Her manuscript, The Meditation for the Lost and Found, is in part inspired by 10 days she spent patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border volunteering with the direct humanitarian aid group, No More Deaths. Her poetry has been published in The Los Angeles Review, CALYX, and PALABRA. Tracy Corey
has lived in Los Angeles, Seattle and traveled throughout Mexico. She is the recipient of First Place in Poetry 2012 in the award-winning literary magazine, SandScript, and her photographs have been exhibited in Arizona and been used as cover art by an independent press. She has studied creative writing at Antioch University, Los Angeles, and the University of Arizona. She is the owner/operator of a small business that, among other things, edits and proofreads manuscripts for authors already published and/or seeking publication. She currently lives in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona.Victor Avila
is an award-winning poet. Two of his poems were recently included in the anthology Occupy SF-Poems from the Movement. He is also a writer and illustrator. Three of his ghost stories were recently included in Ghoula Comix #2.
Blog: Sara Dobie's Blog
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Entertainment in AZ
, Chris Eldridge
, Chris Thile
, Gabe Witcher
, Noam Pikelny
, Paul Kowert
, The Punch Brothers
, Add a tag
- Befriend their roadie, their merchandise guy, and club security.
- Send the band shots of tequila and a note.
- Basically … just show up.
I saw my favorite band of all time last night. I was nervous. So nervous. Why? I was worried I wouldn’t meet them—that they would be so close, here in Phoenix for the very first time, and I would miss them somehow. I felt the endless anxiety over dinner with my gal pals pre-show. Then, we entered the venue, and I talked up the merchandise guy, who said, “Yeah, if you buy them shots, I’ll send them to the green room.” What better than tequila? I mean, we’re in Phoenix, right? I sent them their shots, along with a note with my name. I’m sure my girlfriends thought I was just a nut, but I didn’t care. I had to meet THE PUNCH BROTHERS.
The phenomenal Chris Thile.
I’ve known their music since the band’s foundation, thanks to an amazing performance experience back in Charleston, SC, at the Cistern Yard downtown. Once I moved out here, I pre-ordered every CD, every single. I wrote a letter to their rep, begging they come to Arizona, because they never come to Arizona (something I was not aware of when I moved here, ah-hem). In response to my letter, I got an autographed poster, but still, no word of an upcoming show.
Then, months ago, while enjoying cocktails at Carly’s, I saw the flyer: the Punch Brothers were coming to Crescent Ballroom. I remember staring at the flyer, thinking, “No, it can’t be true. I’m obviously hallucinating thanks to this delicious jalapeno-infused tequila.” Some kind of Mexican agave voodoo? Nay. They really were coming to Phoenix. That night, I bought my tickets: good thing, too, since they apparently sold out.
I’ve been waiting for weeks, counting down the days to December 5th. Then, yesterday, the day arrived. I did nothing productive all day. I got a massage and laid around my house, so panicked was I at the prospect of not meeting the Punch Brothers while in my hometown.
At Crescent Ballroom, after sending my note and the round of shots, I was pretty confident I would make an impression. Then, I waited. The Milk Carton Kids opened for them—a fabulous duo from LA who were equally talented at music as well as comic repartee. Loved them. Then, my boys came on stage, and I’m pretty sure I almost passed out. It was unreal. I mean, the Punch Brothers were three feet in front of me (because I was obviously at the front of the crowd).
Always moving …
The show is a blur. They played a lot of new stuff, some old stuff, mostly upbeat, although I do love their sad ones. Thankfully, they played my most recent obsession, “Another New World,” and their song list gave me a chance to do a lot of clapping, knee-slapping, and general “woohoo”-ing. They have such presence, these boys. They thrive off each other’s energy. They dance around the stage (which made it very hard to get good photos). The audience can feel that energy, and by the end of the show, we were begging for more, more, more. On several occasions, vocalist and mandolin player Chris Thile made the comment, “I can’t believe we’ve never been here before!” I agree. Punch Brothers, Phoenix has been waiting, and we expect you to come back.
After the show, I literally ran into Gabe Witcher, the phenomenally talented fiddle-player who I love. I almost fell over myself trying to make coherent conversation. Then, I turned around, and there was banjo man Noam Pikelny, who I also approached for an autograph and to give extreme kudos. I didn’t see the rest of the band, and I was all set to go home. I left the venue, dejected at not having met, okay, my favorite band member, Chris Thile. That’s when the roadie I met earlier said, “He’s standing outside the bus right now.” In high heels, I ran, damn it, and it was true: there he was.
Me and Chris.
I walked up and said, “I’m Sara. How was the tequila?” to which he replied with much hugging. We reminisced over their Charleston performance years before. He signed my Moleskin and gave me another hug before we had our picture taken together—a fan’s freakin’ dream. Then, I waved and was gone, making him promise the Punch Brothers would one day come back to the Valley of the Sun.
So meeting the Punch Brothers? Pretty easy. Probably because they’re five charming, humble, hilarious dudes, who love good bluegrass and love their fans. I’m so thankful to have discovered them years ago. I’m thankful they came to Phoenix. I’m thankful God made such talented musicians, because the Punch Brothers manage to inspire and entertain with every show. Thanks, boys, for a great night! I’ll see you next time!
Blog: Kid Lit Reviews
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, Children's Books
, Library Donated Books
, Anna's hummingbird
, darcy pattison
, Desert Baths
, desert tortoise
, diamondback rattler
, Kathleen Rietz
, mule deer
, nighttime stars
, Prairie Storms
, scaled quail
, Sylvan Dell Publishing
, turkey vulture
, western United States
, western-banded gecko
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……………………… Kathleen Rietz Illustrator, Desert Baths with author Darcy Pattison ……………….. Please welcome to Kid Lit Reviews a prolific children’s book illustrator and fine artist Kathleen Rietz. She is here to chat with us about herself and her new book with Darcy Pattison titled Desert Baths. Hi, Kathleen, let’s start off with what first interested [...]
Review: Walking the Clouds. Tucson : University of Arizona Press, c2012.
ISBN: 9780816529827 0816529825
A few columns in the past, Rudy Garcia and Ernest Hogan exchanged thoughtful columns about speculative fiction and raza writers and characters. Both Hogan and Garcia are accomplished writers of genre imaginative fiction that some might call science fiction or speculative literature.
Something Hogan said turned me on to this useful anthology. It's part college textbook and part top-drawer introduction to speclit written by indigenous-other-than-Mexican gente. In addition to US Indians and Canadian North American Indian writers, a Jamaican, New Zealander, and a couple Australian indigenous writers are included.
What Hogan and Garcia are specializing in is a most challenging literature to craft. Charged not simply with describing quotidian settings but with added responsibility of posing arresting drama against plausible futures or fantasy origins, to people scenes with actors and languages fit to the time and place. Do it well and you have Hogan’s Smoking Mirror Blues, and Garcia’s Closet of Discarded Dreams. There’s also Lunar Braceros on the Moon.
Mostly, though, they do it in obscurity. Vampires, werewolves, or wizards pretty much define the limits of most readers’ familiarity with speculative literature. But there’s a wide variety of stories within the umbrella term “scifi” or "speclit". That’s why the sweep of this anthology is so useful. If the limits of one’s language are the limits of one’s world, so too one’s literature. Hence, this collection of indigenous literature written in English can widen one’s perspectives on colonialism, conquest, and liberation.
The textbook element grows out of editor Dillon’s organization, dividing the selections to encompass a division of species within the science fiction realm. These include Native Slipstream, Contact, Indigenous Science and Sustainability, Native Apocalypse, and “Returning to Ourselves.”
In addition to sharing the indigenous perspective, the anthology offers a worthwhile introduction to the field of science fiction writing. The science species of writing is Dillon’s specialty. She notes, “One aim of this book is to distinguish science fiction from other speculative writing typically associated with Native thinking, such as the time-traveling alternative worlds in Native slipstream and contact narratives.”
Coming away from such a rich collection of disparate elements, I’m left with a sense that many of these indigenous writers share a pessimistic outlook on native prospects. The premise of dystopias is they arise out of defeat and cataclysm. Dystopia is a shared trope of scifi, such pessimism is not new from indian brothers and sisters. It would be new to have these writers contribute something unique to the conversation implicit in scifi.
Chicana and Chicano writers can take a lesson from the way many abjure simultaneous translation of non-English phrases. The words stand on their own; if you don’t understand they aren’t meant for you. One lesson I hope writers don’t pick up on is dialect writing. Fighting a writer’s aural scribbles makes reading a story an exercise in impatience.
In many cases, the snippets herein will lead curious readers to the whole works and onward into the writer’s oeuvre, so the anthology achieves its end. Walking the Clouds makes one of those cool stocking stuffers to thrill the hard-to-please readers in the familia.
The Best Gift Shopping in L.A.
|Chimaya's sale was last week.|
Tempus fugit worries the last-minute holiday shopper. The months of November and December teem with fabulous craft and art sales. Beginning with Dia de los Muertos events and continuing through the Christmas season, every weekend brings the best gifts that week.
The weekend of the fifteenth is truly the final leisurely shopping day of the season, and it brings the always heroic--for quality and quantity--Avenue 50 Studio Holiday Sale.
This is the eighth time up for Avenue 50, which this year combines the artful awesomeness of Two Tracks Studio
, and She Rides the Lion
The party and sale take over two days in northeast Los Angeles, Saturday, December 15th from 7:00pm to 11:00pm, and Sunday, December 16th from 12:00 noon to 4:00pm
The out-of-the-way location inevitably means museum quality work at neighborhood gallery prices. In this instance, the Avenues neighborhood: 131 N Ave 50, Los Angeles CA 90042.
The direct-from-the-artist sale includes a who's who of accomplished and up-and-coming artists. It's a sale not only of what's on the walls but entrée to the artist's portfolio and commissioned work.
Sergio and Diana Flores
Raquel Soto-EscobarOn-Line Floricanto From the ModeratorsFrancisco X. Alarcón, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Andrea Hernandez Holm, Hedy Garcia, Treviño, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Carmen Calatayud
I watched the interpreter signing
Sharon Olds' poem and thought to myself, "Self, that has to be the toughest job in poetry."
The second toughest job in poetry is moderating a public poetry site and selecting up to five for submission to join an upcoming weekly La Bloga On-Line Floricanto.
All that reading and selecting, and have opportunity to write their own poetry.
Moderators of the Facebook group, Poets Responding to SB1070 Poetry of Resistance
, read the dozens-to-hundreds of unrefereed postings. Poets must engage the Notes feature of Facebook software to share
a poem to appear on the Facebook page.
Moderators read every posting then each rank orders personal picks. Poems that stand out garner near-unanimous votes from the panelists. When votes are close--chacun a son goût, sabes--senior moderator and group organizer Francisco X. Alarcón conducts a second vote or applies alternative filters to break ties and ultimately limit the submission to five poets.
This second-in-December La Bloga On-Line Floricanto is exceptional not only in bringing six poets to the limelight, but because the six include the founder and the five moderators of Poets Responding to SB 1070:
Francisco X. Alarcón, Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Andrea Hernandez Holm, Hedy Garcia, Treviño, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Carmen Calatayud.
"Nochebuena | Christmas Eve" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Her Mother’s Travels" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
"In December" by Andrea Hernandez Holm
"She Rides the Sky" by Hedy Garcia Treviño
"Growing Roots" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2012
"Moving to the Land of the Dead" by Carmen CalatayudNochebuena | Christmas Eveby Francisco X. Alarcón
This poem by Francisco X. Alarcón, with illustrations by Maya Christina Gonzalez, is from their bilingual book, Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems / Iguana en la nieve y otros poemas de invierno
, now availabe though Lee & Low Books. It is included here as as a celebration of the upcoming holidays. Feel free to share
--Francisco X. Alarcón
Poem by Francisco X. Alarcon; illustrations by Maya Christina Gonzalez, from iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems (Lee & Low Books)
Her Mother’s TravelsOdilia Galván Rodríguez
her mother never traveled
except in books
she never visited exotic places
no Eiffel tower or Egyptian pyramids
her mother never got to fulfill dreams
of playing tennis professionally
or of spending long summer nights
in the company of a lover
in that place where two rivers meet
her days were filled
with the push and pull
of assembly lines
of dealing with tired people
who didn’t want to do their jobs
hers to motivate them
to produce for management
by threatening or cajoling
this meant she was always
the witch, or worse
her mother never had real friends
yes, some long ago acquaintances
whose names are remembered
while fingering yellowed photographs
stuck on pages of mildew stained
names of women long moved on
or gone to the next world
women who didn’t care for her much
because she was so hard to love
her mother never had
kind words to say about anyone
her compassion was limited
to faraway orphans
she would send five dollars a week
to keep in clothes and shoes
give them a cup of milk
the ability to stay in school
she had their pictures
taped to the refrigerator
that place where two rivers meet
is a special place
is not from a book she read
but rather from a real place
a special one she still holds dear
she saw it once from a car window
on her journeys as a child
from state to state
her family following
the migrant stream
a place of many willows
of grass tall, a whisper of green-yellow
that reached up on toes to kiss the trees
grass so soft, not hard to navigate
lush enough to be pushed down upon
open enough to lie in
belly to belly
touching the bones of earth
red like the blood of ancestors
soaking up Iná MaKá’s power
most days she is lost
stuck in her oldest memories
mostly the unpleasant ones
but there are times
she travels to that place
a motion picture camera
playing inside her skull
when she sleeps
awake or in the state
brought on by purple pills
there she is held
as she lies in that tall grass
embraced by her lover
there she can remember
all the life she longed to live
all the love she wanted
to give and to receive
but never could
there she is healedIn DecemberAndrea Hernandez Holm
The sounds of a conjunto
Bring me comfort.
I gasp with delight
When I hear el acordeón exhale
Songs from my childhood.
I find solace in the memory
Of family love
And energy. She Rides the Skyby Hedy Garcia Treviño
Dressed in amber shades of moonlight
She called upon the morning star
Forget not yet my name
Forget not yet my name
For I will come again in springtime
And ride upon the wings of hummingbird dressed in turquoise, red and purple robes
She rides the sky
She rides the sky
She left her dreams
In spirit boxes buried on the left side of the mountain
And scattered stardust in the wind
She rode the sky
She rode the sky
And promised to return in spring
Disguised as Little hummingbird
In turquoise red and purple robes
She rode the skyGrowing Rootsby Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2012
Red sky, red earth,
A sunset after monsoon
Blessed the land
“Spread your roots here
I will nourish you,”
The land called
I knew then
This was the place
I was meant to be
I walked the land
The desert claimed me
Welcomed me home
Here I will grow old
Watch the ravens
Be visited by hawks,
Deer, javalina, quail,
Listen to coyotes
Singing in the wash,
Mourning doves cooing
Be sheltered by saguaro,
Mesquite, palo verde,
Smell the creosote
Here I am growing roots
Feeling at home. Moving to the Land of the Deadby Carmen Calatayud
Where the dead loiter and eat blue tulips
is the land I’m attracted to.
Where green grass is purple
and the sky a convoluted rainbow,
where rest is redundant and the sun
is all that’s needed to lift our lungs
for another breath.
Where the dead play for hours
and drink lemonade is the place
I’m drawn to. Where orange lips hang
from trees and bottles of singing potions
are left open till morning comes.
Where hibiscus is chewed like
bubble gum and the raucous pink petals
stain our hearts for the rest of heaven’s time.
Where the dead still use ashtrays as
décor is the home I want to live in.
Where doves as white as a blizzard
fly in and out of windows to laugh
arguments away. Where sugar sprays
like gunshot stars so children
awaken to sweetness. Where peace
resides in the bark of trees
and the leaves never drop.
Where the dead weave silk for pajamas
they wear all day is the town I’m moving to.
Where sheep sleep all day and drink rioja all night.
Where poems by Bukowski pour out of angels’
mouths and torch the campfire that melts
every disease of the soul.
Originally published in In the Company of Spirits
"Nochebuena | Christmas Eve" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Her Mother’s Travels" by Odilia Galván Rodríguez
"In December" by Andrea Hernandez Holm
"She Rides the Sky" by Hedy Garcia Treviño
"Growing Roots" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2012
"Moving to the Land of the Dead" by Carmen Calatayud
Francisco X. Alarcón, Chicano poet and educator, is the author of thirteen volumes of poetry, including, Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation (Chronicle Books 1992), recipient of the 1993 Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002). His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His most recent book of bilingual poetry for children is Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008). He teaches at the University of California, Davis. He created the Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070: http://www.facebook.com/PoetryOfResistance
Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet/activist, writer and editor, has been
involved in social justice organizing and helping people find their
creative and spiritual voice for over two decades. Odilia is one of
the original members and a moderator, of Poets Responding to SB 1070 on
Facebook. She teaches creative writing workshops nationally,
currently at Casa Latina, and also co-hosts, "Poetry Express" a weekly
open mike with featured poets, in Berkeley, CA. For more information
about workshops see her blog http://xhiuayotl.blogspot.com/ or contact
her through Red Earth Productions & Cultural Work 510-343-3693.
Andrea Hernandez Holm is a graduate student in the Mexican American Studies Department at the University of Arizona, and holds an M.A. in American Indian Studies as well. Andrea's primary research interests include indigeneity, identity, and the intersection of identity with creative writing. She is an Instructional Specialist, Sr., in the University's Writing Skills Improvement Program where she provides tutoring services to undergraduate and graduate students and teaches writing workshops for high school students, graduate students, and the general Tucson community. She has also taught Mexican American Studies, American Indian Oral Traditions, American Indian Literature, and American Indian Religions at the university.
Andrea has worked as a research/publications specialist, a freelance writer, editor and writing consultant. Her most recent projects have included working as an editor for Veronica E. Velarde Tiller's book, Culture and Customs of the Apache Indians (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2010) and serving as the Project Researcher/Writer of the award-winning Tiller’s Guide to Indian Country: Economic Profiles of American Indian Reservations published by BowArrow Publishing (2005). Her essay "Prayers and other Ofrendas" appeared in Wisdom of Our Mothers (Familia Books, 2010). Andrea is also a published poet with works appearing in The Blue Guitar, La Sagrada, Tribal Fires, Collegiate Latino Underground, Red Ink, and the Cuentos del Barrio II art exhibition of the Tucson/Pima Arts Council. Two of her poems were selected for the 2010 commemorative issue of El Coraje, a Chicano Studies student publication produced for the Conference Combating Hate, Censorship and Forbidden Curriculum held in Tucson.
Andrea is currently a member of the moderating panel for the Facebook page "Poets Responding to SB 1070". She is also a member of the women's writing group, Sowing the Seeds de Tucson. Her poetry, fiction, and non-fiction essays appear in the group’s anthology, Our Spirits, Our Realities (2011).
Read interviews with Andrea:
"The battle over Mexican American Studies" by Chrissie Long, University World Newshttp://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20120824101851900
"Does Tucson need Three Poet Laureates to bring it back from the brink of censorship?" by Jeff Biggers, The Huffington Posthttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/tucson-poet-laureate_b_1396176.html
Hedy M. Treviño’s poetry has been published in numerous journals and other publications. She has performed her poetry at numerous cultural events. She continues to write poetry, and inspires others to use the written word as a form of self discovery and personal healing. She is one of the Moderators for the Facebook page, Poets Responding to SB 1070
Elena Díaz Björkquist. “After living in California for 36 years, my husband and I decided to leave our beloved redwood forest and move to Arizona, the state of my birth, the state where my parents lived, the state where one of our sons lived with his daughters. It was with trepidation that we arrived in Tucson after a monsoon rain and were greeted by a gorgeous sunset. The move from redwoods to saguaros was blessed by that sunset and we made an easy adjustment to living in the desert.”
A writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, Elena writes about Morenci, Arizona where she was born. She is the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon. Elena is co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos and Our Spirit, Our Reality; our life experiences in stories and poems, anthologies written by her writers collective Sowing the Seeds.
As an Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Scholar, Elena has performed as Teresa Urrea in a Chautauqua living history presentation and done presentations about Morenci, Arizona for twelve years. She recently received the 2012 Arizona Commission on the Arts Bill Desmond Writing Award for excelling nonfiction writing and the 2012 Arizona Humanities Council Dan Schilling Public Humanities Scholar Award in recognition of her work to enhance public awareness and understanding of the role that the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities.
Elena is one of the poet moderators for the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB1070” and has written many poems published not only on that page, but also on La Bloga. She was recently nominated for Poet Laureate of Tucson. Her website is at http://elenadiazbjorkquist.com/.
Carmen Calatayud's first poetry collection In the Company of Spirits was published in October 2012 as part of the Silver Concho Series by Press 53. In the Company of Spirits was a runner-up for the 2010 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts, Gargoyle, La Bloga, PALABRA: A Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art, Red River Review and the anthology DC Poets Against the War. Calatayud is a Larry Neal Poetry Award winner and recipient of a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts fellowship. She is a poet moderator for Poets Responding to SB 1070, a Facebook group that features poetry and news about Arizona’s controversial immigration law that legalizes racial profiling. Born to a Spanish father and Irish mother in the U.S., Calatayud works and writes in Washington, DC.
Family Fun World, c/o Joe Orman.
For the past three years, whenever we visit Jake’s family in Tucson, we drive past what appear to be pastel bird cages off the 1-10. For the past three years, I’ve said to myself, “I wonder what the heck is up with that” but done nothing. This year, on our trip down for Christmas, though, it came to my attention that my husband now owns a smart phone, and voila! Family Fun World.
Family Fun World was one man’s dream to bring an amusement park to Eloy, Arizona. Richard Songers was a construction worker with a dream—to open a park on the land he purchased outside of Eloy in 1995. Initial plans included a drive-in theater, wild animal zoo, race track, and concert venue. Songers apparently ran out of money before the park could open, and well, Family Fun World became a skeleton of unfulfilled dreams. Nothing remains, beyond these bird cages (originally part of a ride called “The Galaxy” from the Magic Mountain Amusement Park in California) and, from what I’ve read, a very angry guard dog.
A bird cage at Family Fun World, Eloy.
What became of Richard Songers? I guess he still lives near Eloy, since one Family Fun World visitor claims to have met the guy. What does he do with his days, I wonder? Has he moved on to the next dream, or does he mourn the loss of the dream unfulfilled?
It’s a new year, 2013. I’m not going to get into my goals (they’re not “resolutions;” they’re goals). I look toward this new year with joy and excitement, because so much can happen in a year. So much can happen in a month! However, there’s been an unfamiliar feeling, too—an invisible finger itching the back of my brain. This feeling woke me up almost every morning when I was home for Christmas in Ohio. This feeling wakes me up at 2 AM sometimes, too. The feeling is fear. Now, I love horror movies. I love haunted houses. I love dark walks with no flashlight. Fear is a feeling I usually embrace, because, like the time I swam with sharks in Belize, fear makes us feel alive. This fear is different. This is the fear of never amounting to anything.
This is the curse of the “artist.” I’m not talking about the movie, The Artist, although the theme fits, as we watch George Valentin sell off his possessions and sink into anonymity. Fear of failure is the curse of anyone with a dream, although artists generally are more susceptible, because we rarely have anyone tell us “good job,” “here’s your promotion,” or “you need a raise.” I live behind a computer screen in pajamas, and although I have a couple essays published, the accomplishment is not enough. I want my novel published, and as I try to sell the one from last year, I work on a 2013 manuscript and hope, because the doubtful voices get louder every year.
What if your book is never on a shelf at Barnes and Noble?
What if you never become that smiling author on The Daily Show?
What if professionally, you never become anything but a marketing copy writer?
What if? What if?
By Kelly Rae Roberts.
I have crushing days of failure. I have days when I pay my career no mind at all. I have days when I don’t want to write and days when I can think of nothing but writing. So here we are, in 2013. What will this year bring? Will that long-awaited call from a literary agent arrive, or will I be crushed beneath the weight of my own terror?
I bought something while we were in Tucson, after passing Family Fun World and spending a good half-hour thinking about poor old Richard Songers. My recent purchase was an ornament from a coffee shop: a painted picture of a skinny girl like me with three words: “create (tell it).” The ornament sits on my desk, because that is what I do. I create and I tell it like I see it. I can acknowledge my fear, but I must also acknowledge a tireless drive to dream. Not even fear can blow that candle out.
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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The only cons I like better then ones that I can ride my bicycle to are cons that only take an hour and a half drive. Sometimes the commute is intimidating and it's much easier to just stay home. Amazing Arizona Comic Con gave me too many reasons to not miss this event.
The Narrows, Zion National Park.
Our last week was spent hiking and camping, immersed in nature. Joined by two of our best pals from out east, Jake and I trekked through Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon. We survived two nights of camping at Zion, the first of which involved a bear scare (turned out to be nothing). The second night, the apocalypse descended by way of a thunderstorm that could wake Rip Van Winkle. There was very little showering, less sleep, and miles—hours
I grew up hiking. Every summer, my family would travel to a number of national parks. I recall one particular trip when my dad and I decided to hike a mountain and ended up going off-trail, getting lost, and wandering for much longer than we should have. Yet, back in the day, this didn’t bother me. Back in the day, I could hike for days and days and never tire of the beauty of nature. So now, at thirty-one, what have I come to realize?
I don’t like hiking.
This may come as a shock to those of you who remember the Sara of her early twenties. As a college kid at Ohio University, I used to skip class to drive to Hocking Hills and hike strenuous trails by myself. I couldn’t be stopped. So what happened over the past ten years?
Arguably, I have finally become over-saturated with the hiking experience. Maybe I did too much hiking as a kid, and now, I just don’t want to do it anymore. Or even worse (gulp): I have officially become a city girl.
The view from our campsite.
I might have done better if not for the camping and the utter disgust with my own stink. Jake has often asked about my family vacations from my youth, and he doesn’t understand why my family never camped. We stayed in hotels. I never had a for sure answer to our lack of camping either, but I do now.
First of all, nobody sleeps well when camping. It’s very hard to hike for six hours when you haven’t had a good night of sleep. My parents understood this, which was why we stayed in places with beds and running water. More importantly, after a long day of hiking, I want a shower, a beer, and ESPN. These are behaviors learned from my father, because after a long day of hiking, this is what he did on our family trips.
Don’t get me wrong: I had a fabulous time this past week with our friends. We hiked the Narrows, which is my favorite hike, like, ever, because the whole time, you’re walking through a river. Yet, by the time we were finally driving home on Tuesday night, I was so, so done. I was ready for a shower, my bed, my dogs, and yes, my computer. I missed feeling like a girl, so yesterday, my gal pal and me got mani/pedis and went to Ulta for new makeup. I wore perfume. I shaved my legs. I went out in high heels. I was a woman again.
I’m not embarrassed to admit it: I’m now a city girl. I love nature, but I’d rather see it from the porch of a furnished cabin as opposed to through the zipper of a stinky tent. And I’d rather be in a pretty dress at happy hour than on a hiking trail. Ten years ago, I never would have seen this coming, but I now must admit: I’ve become a princess.
Do you listen to music when you create? As a writer, I must say I do not, but I know Stephen King has a penchant for hard rock and metal bands when he writes. What about painters? Sculptors? Dancers don’t count, because you obviously listen to music when you create.
Artists out there: what does music mean to you?
I only ask because I’d like to know I’m not alone. See, every time I start a new book, I slowly develop the movie soundtrack. I’m a geek, right? Like, totally, but for real: every book I have ever written has a playlist in iTunes, complete with the book title and a full list of songs that inspired the project.
Sometimes, the list is built before the book even begins. Other times, the playlist grows as the book grows. Generally, there is a main band that frames the novel. I swear, each time I start a new novel, some band out there releases an album that fits perfectly with my project. Very cosmic, yes? It goes back to the theory that we’re all connected: artists and non-artists alike.
What we do inspires other people even if we aren’t aware—which is, I suppose, why we should be cautious of what we create. There’s a lot of pressure, putting something new out into the world. You never know what effect you might have, which is part of the excitement and part of the danger. But I digress …
This blog post is actually a playlist for my first completed novel Life without Harry (available in eBook). I started writing Life without Harry during the summer of last year, and it just so happened that Florence + the Machine released Ceremonials around the same time. Voila. Soundtrack created. But as the book grew, so did the songs.
I’d now like to share the very special, very personal song list that went along with the writing of Life without Harry. I can even tell you the specific scene where each song belongs. Enjoy some good music today and realize how much music affects you, your life, and your art.
Official Soundtrack to Life without Harry
We Are Young – Fun (Movie Trailer)
Prologue – John Williams (Just because.)
Only If For A Night – Florence + the Machine (Opening Credits)
I Won’t Let You Down – Alex Clare (Kissing in the Fireflies)
Heartlines – Florence + the Machine (Running from Cops on Camelback)
Transatlantic – Silver Rocket (Anywhere. This song fits anywhere.)
Between Two Lungs – Florence + the Machine (Sam Begins to Write)
Arizona – Kings of Leon (Paul Takes Sam Broom-Flying)
Never Let Me Go – Florence + the Machine (The Haboob Chase)
Soon or Never – Punch Brothers (The Final Goodbye to Sig)
Thanks for reading … er, listening. In the future, I think I’ll always include a playlist in the content of my novels. It seems to make the experience so much more personal, for me and my reader. We can not only share words and images but sounds, as well, no matter the distance between us, and I like that.
Suicide Girls. Blackheart Burlesque troupe.
There is something really hot about a chick with black lipstick and tattoos. I’m fake punk; I know this. I wear dark lipstick, makeup, and tight t-shirts with snarky sayings. However, I also clean up well and look very nice in a white dress. Oh, and I only have one tattoo. I couldn’t be a Suicide Girl, but oh, how I would like to be!
I attended Suicide Girls’ Blackheart Burlesque at the Marquee Theater in Tempe. Initially, I bought tickets because I love burlesque. Only secondarily did I look into the Suicide Girls, although as I understand it, the majority of my male friends knew about them already.
Suicide Girls is a website, created by two Portsmouth, Oregon, folk who wanted to see “hot punk rock girls naked.” To be a member of the website, you must pay, and it’s become an international phenomenon, now based in Los Angeles. There are books by the Suicide Girls, as well as movies and a tour.
Priddy Suicide. Pardon my drooling.
The Blackheart Burlesque show is a little different than the tour, because not all Suicide Girls can dance—and the BB girls … they could freakin’ dance. The lead cast of the show was only four ladies. I could have gone for more, but the four did not disappoint—Priddy Suicide, in particular. Talk about a hot chick. Yipes. Each of the four women was different: different colored hair, different tattoos, different body shapes. What did they have in common? Severe confidence and an edge.
The Blackheart Burlesque was very much about nerd love. Since I’m a nerd, I appreciated all the cultural references. This wasn’t a stupid strip tease. This was everything from The Big Lebowski to Planet of the Apes to Star Wars. True, Star Wars in g-strings with duct tape over nipples—but Star Wars!
I was about six rows back, but the front couple rows got covered in everything from fake blood to whiskey. And how could I forget the birthday cake? At one point, the MC covered her breasts in birthday cake and let the audience lick frosting from her fingers. Priddy Suicide even poured whiskey into her own mouth and then spit liquor into the awaiting, open mouths of her fans.
Half the troupe was British (hot). But of course, Priddy, the whiskey-chugging, foul-mouthed, ample-breasted redhead, was American. Thank you.
The Suicide Girls are not about dotting letters with little hearts. They aren’t about being sweet or shy. Although burlesque is the art of tease, this was teasing with a fist to the head. Whenever you open a show with Bjork’s “Army of Me,” what can you expect? Nothing less than one kick ass performance from four kick ass women who chew men up and spit ‘em out like bad sushi.
The Suicide Girls do Star Trek.
Ask a person with social anxiety to speak in front of one hundred teens about social anxiety, and the irony is all too apparent. Still, when Gina’s Team asked, I said “yes,” and immediately asked myself WHY? What was I thinking? I’m terrified of speaking in public, but I resigned myself to my fate.
Gina’s Team is an organization founded by my friend, Sue Ellen Allen. Gina Panetta died while serving time with Sue Ellen at Perryville Prison. She died because of ignorance—Gina, a young woman with children who loved her. Now, Gina’s Team works to promote education and self-sufficiency for incarcerated women and men in Arizona.
Mingus Mountain Academy.
Wednesday, a group of us from Gina’s Team traveled to Prescott to visit the Mingus Mountain Academy. Mingus is a safe place for emotionally and behaviorally at-risk adolescent girls. The girls there are victims of abuse. Some are suicide attempt survivors, drug addicts, and criminals. Others have escaped sex trafficking and unsafe home environments. All in all, they are broken and in need of healing.
Upon our arrival, I was surprised at the attitudes of these young women. They approached us immediately, shook our hands, and introduced themselves. These are teenagers with a healthy respect for their elders and confidence not mustered by most adults. Impressive.
We congregated in the gymnasium for the speech segment. Three of us offered our input. Lori and Diana (both ex prison inmates I was blessed to work with at Perryville) told their stories of missing fathers, drug abuse, rape, and prison. When Lori broke down in tears, the girls of Mingus cheered her on and shouted, “We support you!” Some of them even joined in her tears, because they related—they understood.
As I mentioned, I was invited to speak about social anxiety and depression. I gave the narrative version of my life—from my days of black hair, cutting, and an abusive relationship to now. I told the story of meeting Jake, and the girls gave a standing ovation when I told them I’d been married two whole years. They were just so thrilled to hear I’d found someone—someone who loves me for who I am, who doesn’t hit me, who lets me be me.
Afterward, during the Q&A, they asked me to sing for them, which I did (another standing O). One girl was brave enough to ask how I stopped cutting, since she is a cutter herself. I channel my depression, anxiety, and rage into writing, so I told her she needs to find her cutting replacement, too. Another girl asked how to get over losing someone. The only thing I could tell her was time.
As we got ready to leave, young women ran to me to give me hugs and read me their poetry. I was amazed again by their self-confidence but also by their talent. The girls of Mingus can write!
On the drive back from Prescott, we read their comments. A repeated theme: “You give us hope.” I received a personal note, as well: “Sara, you inspire me to move on with my life.”
During my speech, I talked to them about a lot of things—about escapism, how to cheer up when in a funk, and how to be strong, especially in a world dominated by men. I also talked to them about God and how He gave me depression and anxiety for a reason: so that I could relate to others suffering from the same diseases and let them know life is never without hope.
I completely crashed after my trip to Mingus. I felt the lingering nausea, which always follows public speaking. As an introvert, my body was sapped of all energy. Yet, I basked in the images of my day—all those beautiful, broken girls and the way they cheered for us outsiders, strangers. They enveloped us in their love, despite perhaps feeling unloved themselves.
I hope to return to Mingus in September for their annual poetry slam contest. I can’t wait to hear more of their written words, their form of artistic escape. Until then, the girls will be in my prayers because I want the best for each and every one of them. They deserve the best.
by Ernest Hogan
Arizona is weird. People ask me why I live here. I just dig that weirdness.
I also found my wonderful wife here. She digs the weirdness, too. She took the pictures that decorate this post. Ah, the romance of decaying cacti! So freaking beautiful! Beauty should be strange or not at all. So no one should be surprised that the Arizona state legislature came up with a not so beautiful monstrosity like SB 1062, that expands “exercise of religion” and “state action” to protect businesses, corporations, and “people” from lawsuits after denying services based on a sincere religious belief. Like, if you happened to believe that homosexuality is an abomination, and some sodomites wanted pay you for whatever you do for money, you could tell them to go take a hike. What ever happened to good old-fashioned capitalism? I wonder what such an entity would think if they knew that I’m an all-purpose heathen devil who practices creative blasphemy?
Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062. These times they are a-changing. She hasn’t hallucinated about human heads being found in the desert lately, and she told CNN: “I think anybody that owns a business can choose who they work with or they don’t work with. But, I don’t know that it needs to be statutory.”
Believe it or not, there are gays in Arizona. A lot of them work in service-related industries. Couples are making wedding plans, and going to California to get married.
There are also a lot of Arizonans who have trouble with people who are different from them. That’s why all the English Only, and anti-immigrant noise. These same people interact with and are served by gays every day, but they can’t tell.
These are the folks who came to Arizona to get away from it all. And they haven’t escaped, they’re just in denial.
Meanwhile, three mountain bikers reported seeing a reptilian humanoid near Tucson: “all of a sudden we see this long figure walking across the trail. He is maybe about 6-foot tall, very very skinny, and it had an awkward gait, like a monkey . . . or a man with a disease, almost robotic, kind of.” But the creature may have not been male. There are species of lizards that are all female, reproducing through parthenogenesis. Like the New Mexico whiptail lizard who “performs a type of pseudocopulation where two females will act out having sex as if one was a male.”
So, look out Arizona, there is no escape. The lesbian lizards of Aztlán are out there, heading for your place of business, seeking your services.
Ernest Hogan is La Bloga’s Arizona correspondent. He also writes science fiction. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which.
Good pal Sue Ellen Allen harassed me (in a good way) for two years before I finally agreed to volunteer at Perryville Prison. Sue Ellen and friends started a book club, and what better place for me to be than a book club, right? So why the initial hesitation?
Was it because my father was once a parole officer? No. Was it because I don’t like to volunteer? No. Well, I mean, yes, I dislike volunteering (not very Christian, I know), but the main reason I didn’t want to volunteer at Perryville Prison was because I was scared. I had visions of Con Air. I just knew I would end up running from some Steve Buscemi freak show. Or maybe end up murdered. Or kidnapped. Something. Because to an outsider, that’s what prison is—a dark, scary place filled with hardened criminals who know how to turn a toothbrush into a lethal weapon. Was I wrong? Of course.
Getting into Perryville the first time wasn’t fun, however. There were intimidating security guards and metal detectors that went off because of my underwire bra. Once inside, it was obvious I was in prison, what with the barbed wire, heavily locked doors, and women in orange. Then, I met the girls, and they didn’t look much like hardened criminals to me. They looked like waitresses, lawyers, mothers, aunts—normal people in abnormal and unfortunate circumstances.
Many women who end up in Perryville are there because of drinking and driving. Think about that. How many times have you driven a car under the influence? One of the saddest stories I’ve heard is that of Jessica Robinson, whose mother, Jeanne, first introduced me to the world of Perryville Prison. Jessica was in radiography school, on her way to a successful career, when her life changed forever on September 5, 2008. She went out with friends that night, had a couple drinks, stayed up late, and fell asleep at the wheel on her way home. Her car accident killed someone, and she received a seven year sentence at Perryville. Her full story is here, at Jessica’s Operation Orange
. The same thing could have happened to me. Or to you. Or to your best friend.
I’ve been to Perryville three times now. During each visit we discuss books like The Secret Life of Bees and Vinegar Hill—novels that beg to be discussed, especially by women. Last night was my first time rolling solo, and I had the chance to meet eleven spectacularly intelligent women trapped in unfortunate self-made circumstances. Yes, they feel guilt over what they did. Last night turned into a full-on therapy session as we discussed forgiveness and how these women worry that their children will never love them again because of the mistakes they’ve made. Then later, we laughed together, because women like to laugh, even in prison.
Has my life been altered by my experiences at Perryville? Yes. Do I still have visions of Con Air
? No, because I’ve come to see these women for what they are: human beings who made horrible mistakes.
I believe in the inspirational, healing power of books, which is why I’m glad to host the monthly book club. I believe in second chances, which is why educational activities are necessary at Pe
Dear, Phoenix: I write you this letter to express my current discontent, although it’s not really your fault; it’s mine. This is my third summer wrapped inside your hellish embrace, and every summer, it seems I grow more impatient with you.
Through winter and spring, I adore you. I offer you metaphorical rose bouquets and heart-shaped chocolates from November through to blessed April. We have a good thing going for over half the year, don’t we?
True, I curse you in October, because let’s face it: you have no respect for Halloween. You don’t realize October should smell like clove cigarettes and wet leaves. You don’t understand that the month should be overtaken by spooky gray clouds and thunderstorms. You don’t even know to be cool and crisp at night, so focused are you on your singular goal of being temperate. I understand you want to make everyone happy. You are a people-pleaser, Phoenix, but consider watching a couple horror movies in order to hone your Halloween craft.
I get a little weirded out in December too, because Christmas is supposed to be cold. Last year, I locked myself in my house behind dark plantation shutters. I used the fireplace function on Netflix and turned our TV into a red-orange inferno. I lit all the Christmas lights in the house, including the pine-scented Yankee Candle. I pretended it was snowy outside. I pretended it was cold, because let’s face it, Phoenix: Christmas is supposed to be cold and covered in snow. As a reference, please see National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
From January to April, though, you are a thing of beauty. Flowers bloom early. The skies retain a cerulean hue for endless weeks, and in early spring, the city is overwrought by the sweet smell of orange blossoms. As a populace, we uncover pools and start swimming mid-March. Because we can. By your grace, dear Phoenix, you offer us paradise while other states still cower beneath cloud-cover and melting snow. You are a saint, Phoenix, and we frankly do not deserve you!
And then. And then …
What did we do to deserve your summer heat? What offering did we forget to give? What song of praise did we not sing? The fires of hell descend upon us from May through September. Pavement smolders, plants die, and I wilt beneath the merciless summer sun. We say it’s a dry heat. We tell out-of-staters that it’s not that bad, that we can manage the heat because there’s no humidity, but I can admit, I am full of it when I make such claims. I don’t like the summer heat. I don’t want it. Please, Phoenix, take it back.
I cheated on you two weeks ago. I cheated on you with Ohio—a state that is gray six months of the year while the desert sun shines on. Despite horrendous winters, Ohio has something on you, Phoenix. Ohio has warmth but not fire; blue skies that can be enjoyed in the summer, while we in Arizona huddle in air-conditioned homes, praying for respite. Ohio has lush gardens, cool mornings, and cooler nights. Coming back to you was hard after my foray into brief unfaithfulness. As much as I love you, I did not miss you. It pains me to say it, Phoenix, but I only broke your heart because you first broke mine.
You give me sunshine when I want rain. You give me blistering heat when all I want is a cool night. You rob me of seasons because you want me surrounded by sunlight all year round. It’s not your fault; it’s mine. I’m growing older, and
Tubing the Salt River is like Mardi Gras, except it takes place on inner tubes in a river, and instead of beads, you throw marshmallows. I didn’t know any of this going into it. I just knew we needed to bring water shoes, snacks, and a hell of a lot of beer. Oh, and sunscreen. Gobs and gobs of sunscreen.
The Salt River is a short drive from Phoenix, located in the Tonto National Forest near Mesa. Upon arrival, it was hard to believe such a beautiful, mountainous, untouched-by-man place could exist so close to the city. I was reminded of Zion National Park, the Narrows hike—a river surrounded by two sheer cliff faces. Once we had our tubes (a fifteen dollar rental, which includes the bus ride to the “launch site”), we were ready to go.
Or not. See, first you have to make your raft. Jake and I went along with five other people. You don’t want to lose these people (which, trust me, did happen once or twice, thanks to unexpected rapids and one cooler rescue mission). Using rope, you must tie your inner tubes together, ideally with the coolers tied in the center for easy access. I watched all this happen while drinking a beer in a bikini on a beach at, oh, eleven AM, under the scalding Phoenix heat.
I could totally do this for a living.
Another thing: you gotta cover your inner tubes with sheets to keep them from getting too hot. I also learned that the sheets acted as a support system, which allowed me to balance in the middle of my inner tube, Indian-style, for most of the trip … whenever I wasn’t going Navy Seal-style on marshmallow attack missions.
So what’s the deal with the marshmallows? I honestly don’t know. I know we were told to bring marshmallows, but I didn’t fully understand the fire-fight (or pastry-fight) that was due to ensue. Strangers, complete strangers, barrage you with marshmallows all the way down the four-hour river ride. Of course, retribution is sweet. By the end of the day, I was like Upton throwing a run-saving line drive to Montero at home. The huge marshmallows were like prized possessions, and several of our group often went diving halfway across river to grab one of those monsters.
As I mentioned, there were moments when people were almost lost. The Salt River is not, I repeat, not free of rapids, and they have a way of sneaking up on you. All you can do is hold on tight—to each other and to the coolers—and hope for the best.
If I could spend every Saturday tubing the Salt River, I would. It felt a lot like the Rockville Regatta in Charleston, South Carolina, where a bunch of strangers tie their boats together and have a day of romping. On the Salt River, you’re best buddies with everyone. You do strange things for beer (things that will not be mentioned here) and make great friends with funny lesbians (don’t ask). You get body-slammed into deep, blue water, and it’s great. It’s all great!
The Salt River is a place where fully grown adults can pretend, for one afternoon, to be kids again. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I would suggest you go, as soon as possible. Don’t forget your marshmallows, and be sure to buy more beer than you think you could possibly drink—beca
Guest Columnist: Sarah Rafael Garcia. "Memorias de Mis Besos Nobel"
As I entered the bookstore, I felt a literary spirit penetrate my skin. My body had an ever so tingling sensation that left my hair electrifying and my toes curled in the most sensual position. I was a bit overpowered and a little uncomfortable with the public experience but I went along with it. It felt so good.
I took each step with pure indulgence. I skimmed the tables for something that caught my eye but all I could think of was how excited I felt and took pleasure in the warmth that was spreading from my feminine spot to my inner thighs.
I slowly made my way through the isles, carefully placing my hands on leather-bound books and vibrant illustrations. I ran my fingers through Isabel Allende, Julia Alvarez, Rudolfo Anaya and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. As something called for me to return to the front of the store, I took in a deep breath, attempting to hide my internal moans of pleasure. Then I remembered that Laura Esquivel's Malinche was sitting on the front table and I needed two copies for her autograph that I was there to get.
At that very minute, I saw him enter through the magical doors. A young, handsome man gallantly walked besides him, but my focus was on his distinguished presence and gray hair. He was the one that seemed extremely familiar and whose enlightening works ran through my head: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera and the most notable to me, Memorias de Mis Putas Tristes.
I timidly kept my distance but forced my way to the cashier’s desk where he stood signing a book for the owner. My curiosity led me to study the young sales attendant’s reaction. While blushing, she nodded at me as if yelling out loud "Yes! Oh God, it is him!”
I leaned over to see his face. I needed confirmation. I was there to meet one of my top inspirations to become of writer, but I never in my wildest dreams expected to run into him. ¡Mi numero uno!
El que me hace soñar entre sus manos. El que me toca sensualmente con cada palabra. El único que siempre esta allí cuando lo busco. The one who has touched many lives around the world, with just a stroke of a pen.
There he was with his back turned towards me. He was taking a step farther away from my urges. He had one foot out the door, headed back to the fantasy world that he was in prior to this moment. A place that was so remote to me. Could I actually let him slip out of reach just like that?
As calm as I could possibly be while walking towards him, I stated loudly, "¿Con permiso, lo puedo saludar?"
As charming as he is known to be & before he could turn to see my face, he responded, “Solo si lo hace con un beso." With a mischievous smile, I replied, "¡Si gusta le doy dos!"
Then we casually intertwined into a normal conversation about me living in China, writing a book and reading two of his in the last year and a half. I stated how happy I was to be with him. He told me that our worlds could have crossed at many places, since he too spent time getting lost in the walls of the Forbidden City and his own stories. He was so charming and intriguing. His eyes were mesmerizing. I had no choice but to give myself to him. He had full control of the encounter. He inquired about my life and how I survived through such tough times. He made me laugh like a schoolgirl. He made me feel like I was the only woman and writer in the world, “No te preocupes, ya se que vas a hacer una escritora famosa. ¡Por que siempre comenzamos pobres y con hambre!”
I continued to succumb to his every gesture and hung on to each syllable his lips enunciated. He held my hands tightly and played with words as if he knew he was courting my literary whims to reach their climax. Then just like that; he wished me Buena Suerte and expressed his sincerity with a gentle embrace.
The same instant he walked out the door, he disappeared from my vision and returned to my world of passionate dreams. I was left flushed and wanting more. Immediately afterwards I did what every impressionable young woman would do. I shared my intimate moment with a good girlfriend. While describing each minute detail of my rendezvous with the Nobel Prize winner, I realized I had never even told him my name.
About Sarah Rafael Garcia
Sarah Rafael García was born in Brownsville, Texas and raised in Orange County, California. She started writing after her father's passing in 1988. She obtained a Bachelors of Science in Sociology at Texas State University, is bilingual in Spanish and knows enough Mandarin to speak to pre-k students and taxi drivers in China. She has lived in Beijing and traveled to various countries including a three-month backpacking adventure in Australia. She is an active writer, community educator and published author who strives to advocate for human rights.
Since the publication of Las Niñas, A Collection of Childhood Memories in 2008, García has continued to share her writings and community outreach by founding Barrio Writers in 2009, a reading and writing program aimed to empower youth through creative writing, higher education and the cultural arts and hosting Wild Womyn Writers in 2010, workshops that create neutral spaces which empower womyn to explore their creative spirits, free themselves from societal restrictions and learn to embrace their natural instincts.García’s essay “Crossing Borders” was published in Connotation Press in April 2011 and her spoken word piece "Without a Name" was aired on the 2012 EXSE Spoken Word Showcase and published in Label Me Latina/o in June 2012. Most recently, she is attending Texas State University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing while working on her next book. García’s writings, workshops and lifestyle promote community empowerment, cultural awareness and global sharing.
Listen to Sarah Rafael Garcia read a story at Latinopia.Banned Books Update
On this first Tuesday in the eighth month of the year 2012, Arizona continues to ban books in your name.
After reading last week's La Bloga Banned Books Update
, a University of Nebraska researcher wrote Tucson Unified School District Superintendent of Schools John Pedicone. Pedicone insists he has not banned The Tempest
, nor any other book. Pedicone alludes kids can get the not-banned books by filing approved interlibrary loan paperwork.
The researcher asked if kids would be expelled for bringing in a non-banned banned book. Pedicone wrote back with his claim that nothing has been banned and if a teacher wants to use a book, Shakespeare's The Tempest
, for example, the teacher has that liberty, provided the title is approved for use in that class.
Pedicone refused to answer the question about the kid's liberty. His silence is tacit admission that any kid bringing a non-banned banned book into the classroom will be banned from the classroom, along with that non-banned banned book.On-Line Floricanto First Tuesday in August 2012
Arnoldo Garcia, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Alma Luz Villanueva, Alejandro E. Barajas, Iris de Anda
“My land” by Arnoldo Garcia:
"Ode to Teresita" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
"Quetzalcoatl's Radiance" by Alma Luz Villanueva
"El Jefe de la pobreza / The Boss of Poverty" by Alejandro E. Barajas
“Read the fine print” by Iris de AndaMy Land by Arnoldo Garcia
is the smallest country
in the world.
my country fits
of one molecule
in a touch between one strand of DNA
every Asian Pacific Islander
of the earth
every two-legged, four-legged,
crawling, burrowing, winged-
fit in my country.
Everyone is welcome, everyone
I'll happily give you
as long as you promise
not just to take care of her
to let everyone
live in her in peace
in garbled flags
in borders without pigment
borders with human pores
to breath freely
to live breathing
My country is everyone, is everywhere
my country is small
bothers no one
invades no one
drones no one
doesn't stamp your passport
doesn't ask for identity documents
my country lets you be
lets you exist as yourself
lets you determine who you are
my country has no borders
other than those of humanity to humanity
my country has no armies
no prisons no police
no homeless no one suffers
at the hands of other humans
my country is all the colors
the clash of colors, the contrast
the muddy blends, the stark yellows
the pink sunrises, the red of your tongue
mu country fits in your veins
fits in the bat of an eye
welcomes you to our bodily paradise
you can have my country, if you want
it's already yours
walk slowly take your time
my country is in no rush
peace and freedom take their time
rest a bit get up work hard, party
in my country
even the dead
get a turn to dance
every now and then
there are no regrets
there is only life
and its mortal pleasures
in my country
oh! in my country
you would be ideal
you would fit right in
like you always lived there
like your ancestors had been buried there
as a matter of fact
I would encourage you
to bury your ancestors here...
to bring your ancestors here
to my country
to bury them here
take care of them here
take care of our country
where every living being
my country is so small
that everyone fits.
And in one of her pores
fit all the suns and moon,
my country, you and me...Ode to Teresitaby Elena Díaz Bjorkquist ©2012
Teresita Urrea, Santa de Cabora,
Mexican Joan of Arc,
You, the spiritual curandera
Who dedicated her life to serve others.
You, the illegitimate daughter
Born of an unlikely union between
A fourteen-year-old india, Cayetana Chavez
And wealthy haciendado, Tomas Urrea.
Abandoned by your mother at twelve,
Accepted by your father at fifteen —
You went from poverty to riches
To become a pampered daughter.
You lived with him, his mistress Gabriela,
Your half bothers and sisters, at Cabora—
Learning from Huila, the rancho’s healer
To become a curandera.
One day, you fell into a trance so deep
Your father thought you’d died,
But you survived with a mission from God
To cure, comfort, and console the sick.
Thousands flocked to Cabora,
To receive your touch,
To seek your counsel,
To be healed.
Afraid you’d lead the indios to rebellion,
Presidente Díaz had you arrested,
Offered you prison or exile.
Prison meant death—you chose exile.
With your father also exiled,
You came to Nogales in Arizona Territory
Became a living saint
Adored by los indios of Mexico.
Your heart broke over Tomóchic.
The slaughter of Tomoticheco villagers
The death of 700 soldiers, the destruction
Of a town—all blamed on you.
Santa Teresita, curandera, spiritual healer,
You moved to El Paso with your family,
Continued your healing work,
Wrote about Tomóchic.
You refused to lead a Yaqui rebellion
That led to the death of seven warriors.
Branded “La Bruja de Nogales,”
Three attempts were made on your life.
You settled in Clifton, found peace
Until you married the wrong man,
A spy sent by Presidente Díaz
To take you to Mexico or kill you.
Disowned by your beloved father,
You joined a medical company to tour
The United States starting in San Francisco—
Ending in New York with a new love.
By the birth of your daughter Laura,
The death of your father whom you
Never saw or spoke to again.
Back to California, to Los Angeles
Where you worked with unions
Until your house burned down
And you returned to Arizona.
Another daughter born in Solomon,
Reminded you of family in Clifton.
So you went back, built a house there,
Died at thirty-three years of age.
Your faithful friends and servants
Mariana and her husband Fortunato
Raised your daughters in Mexico
Until they returned to Arizona.
You, dear Santa Teresa, forgotten
By time, your bones moved twice,
So now you rest in an unmarked grave
People claim is yours.
Cabora crumbled into the dirt
That gave birth to its adobes—
Scarcely an outline of its walls remain,
Broken tiles festoon the ground.
Your only monument, a plaque
On a boarding house in El Paso,
Earmarked for destruction
In the name of progress.
Yet the spirit of La Santa de Cabora,
The spirit of Teresita, your holy spirit—
Lives on in the hearts and minds
Of those of us that love you.QUETZALCOATL'S RADIANCEby Alma Luz Villanueva
I live in Mexico
because festivals wake
me up pre-dawn,
Quetzalcoatl shimmering through
sky window, these
fireworks loud like
died, left the body,
someone beloved, they
explode, they weep
for two hours, through
the day, and no
one calls the police, every
one understands some
one's left their body, some
one beloved is gone. I
dream through explosions,
wake to loud joyous
mariachis in the distance,
a marriage, family gathering,
I live in Mexico
because death and
life hold hands
dancing, singing, exploding
with grief and joy-
I live in Mexico
because every car stops
for the funeral procession,
a singer/guitarist sings
the beloved's favorite
songs on the way to
the cemetery, where the
famiies will gather, Dia
de Los Muertos, to
welcome their tender Spirits
home, from babies to
elders, a feast on the
graves, they decorate,
beauty, song, candles,
tiny stars flicker all
night long as Spirits
come to taste tamales,
tacitos, tequila, cerveza,
fresh limes, oranges,
sweet cakes, where
the father of his Spirit
teen, grave decorated with
little cars, dancing
muertos, bottles of
empty Victorias (his
favorite), some full,
proudly shows me his
handsome boy, I can't
weep, his smile of
I drove to Mexico
in spring 2005, the
fear color codes of
my country, endless
wars on some enemy,
my dreams filled with
mourning women, holding
Spirit sons and daughters,
only sorrow, only grief,
no graves of marigolds,
death holding hands
with life, dancing, singing,
pre-dawn journey of
the beloved, all day
into the night, mariachis
leading a wedding party to
more joy, holding hands
with life death life-
I live in Mexico
joy sorrow joy,
those without my
country's great entitlements,
the leaders, the shameless
1% who would haul
off the mourner with
explosive weeping, singing,
who allow one in five
children in my country to
be hungry, who prefer
the poor to die (very)
quickly, while mouthing
how much they love their
country, care for its people,
send the neediest young to
kill/die for their oil wars,
want to control the
sacred wombs of women,
the constant enemy,
the constant fear,
unhinging our young, our
unbonded to our Mother
Earth young, bring
automatic weapons to
theatres where the masses
go to dream, the manufactured
dream of Holly Wood,
dream, all humans need to
dream, many have forgotten
how to dream, vision-
I live in Mexico
because a Huichol family
in full brilliant rainbow
dress motioned me in front
of them, the market, I
thanked them but no, their
rainbow smiles insisted,
and the woman helped
me unload my full
cart, their few carefully
selected items waited, she
smiled her rainbows, I
smiled mine, "Gracias,
I kept saying, why
I live in Mexico.
I live in Mexico to feel
full sun on my face,
full moon light/shadow,
Quetzalcoatl's radiance.San Miguel de Allende, July 2012
El Jefe de la pobreza
por Alejandro E. Barajas
mi gente llegó
a un estado mojado
listos para trabajar
llenos de alegría y paz
listos para hacer
la diferencia y más
de tanto dolor y poca educación
ellos fueron la ternura
de la lumbre en este pecho
por dentro del corazón
vive el hombre
vive la hembra
que fueron maltratados
en el programa de Los Braceros
uno por uno
por la virtud
de trabajar y amar
cantando con el cielo
soñando con la tierra
un canto lleno de amor
soy un hombre
lleno de amor y ternura
soy más que lo que soy ahora
la pobreza hierve
dentro mi sangre
dentro mi corazón
lleno de menos dolor
lleno de más educación
Pan-America Unida es mi ilusión
The Boss of Poverty
by Alejandro E. Barajas
my people arrived
in a wet state
ready to work
filled with joy and peace
ready to be
the difference and more
from much pain and little education
they were the tenderness
of the fire in my chest
within the heart
lives the man
lives the woman
there lives those
whom were mistreated
in the program of Los Braceros
one by one
for the virtue
to work and love
singing with the sky
ringing with the earth
one song filled with love
I am a man
filled with love and tenderness
I am more than I am now
the poverty boils
inside my blood
inside my heart
filled with less pain
filled with more education
Pan-America United is my illusion
© 2012 Alejandro E. Barajas
Read the fine print...
by Iris De Anda
Handshake sells the contract
Masterminded at ease
You say thank you & please
As "They" give it to us
Individualized monotone design
We are to feed on consumer disintegration
With a dis-eased population
Become subdued under sugarcoated ties
Fall asleep under lulluby of lies
Sell your soul
What is the price to brainwash ideals?
“My land” by Arnoldo Garcia:
"Ode to Teresita" by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist
"Quetzalcoatl's Radiance" by Alma Luz Villanueva
"El Jefe de la pobreza / The Boss of Poverty" by Alejandro E. Barajas
“Read the fine print” by Iris de Anda
Elena has been doing a Chautauqua living history presentation of Teresita Urrea, la santa de Cabora, since 2001. The Arizona Humanities Council pays her honorarium and she travels all over Arizona introducing people to Teresita. She recently performed as Teresita at the National Hispanic Museum in Albuquerque and the Chamizal National Monument in El Paso. She's also performed at UC Davis, Border Book Festival in Las Cruces, Segundo Barrio in El Paso, and UT in San Antonio.
A writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, Elena writes about Morenci, Arizona where she was born. She is the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon. Elena is co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos and Our Spirit, Our Reality; celebrating our stories, anthologies written by her writers collective Sowing the Seeds.
As an Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Scholar, Elena also does presentations about Morenci, Arizona. She received the 2012 Arizona Commission on the Arts Bill Desmond Writing Award for excelling nonfiction writing and the 2012 Arizona Humanities Council Dan Schilling Public Humanities Scholar Award in recognition of her work to enhance public awareness and understanding of the role that the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities.
Recently, Elena was nominated for Poet Laureate of Tucson. She is one of the poet moderators for the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB1070” and has written many poems that were published not only on that page but also on La Bloga. Her website is at http://elenadiazbjorkquist.com/.
Alejandro Esiquiel Barajas was born in Sunnyside, Wa. He was born into a hard working farm-working family. Along with 6 siblngs in the family, everyone knew what one dollor's worth meant at an early age. It was in the year of 2007 that Alejandro began to write about this intricate life, but it wasn't until 2009 that he began to create courage to save his thoughts on a piece of paper. This has now evolved into a self-manifestation of several poems that transcend into different realms inside the mind. Alejandro's personal interest include, but are not limited to: strumming the guitar, waking with the sun, neighboring the shores, and skipping rocks endlessly until the arm gives out. Alejandro will be attending Western Washington University's Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies for the next two years, where he intends to dive into Ethnic Studies/Critical Pedagogy. He also intends to further his studies until he recieves a PhD.
Taper Gets One Right: Red Fills Seats
A few months after I got home from the Army (42 years ago last week), my wife bought a season of Thursday opening nights at the Mark Taper Forum. I've been a season seat holder ever since, albeit now a Saturday matinee tipo. One of the productions that first dazzling year for me stands out, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine. I was one of the audience members selected to sit as a juror in this world premiere performance of Daniel Berrigan's play, Directed by the Taper's Gordon Davidson.
A few years later, I'd see the Taper's dynamic New Theatre For Now series' opening night Zoot Suit, with Daniel Valdez as el pachuco, firing up a joint to spark the opening monologue.
It's experiences like those that keep me buying seats at the Taper, even after they remodeled the place and moved me from an aisle to center of a long row. It's definitely not the output from impresario Michael Ritchie that keeps me buying seats, because Ritchie starves L.A. audiences for quality fare.
A Mark Taper Forum season used to assure ticket holders would have immediate, important, home-grown productions, with road shows of highest quality to spice up a season, like Siobhan McKenna's Irish ladies. Nowadays, the free program offers up bios of east coast and out-of-town actors, directors, and tech people.
Sometimes Ritchie's preference for immigrant art hits the Mark, and saves a season. That's Red.
The play's an exhausting fabulous ninety minute no-intermission hyper Socratic dialog between painter Mark Rothko and his assistant. The combination of actors Alfred Molina as Rothko and John Logan as the factotum works with drilling intensity. Theatre sleepers like me stayed alert for every moment of dialog. Silence works, too, like a frenzied scene when the pair drench themselves and a canvas in a red.
comes to Music Center Hill via Broadway. Not the Million Dollar on LA's Broadway down the hill, but New York City where the production, Molina, and playwright John Logan, won big awards and grand reviews. Rightfully so. Logan writes some of the best dialog to treat your ears, ever. He stands out as an artist whose work should win him other prizes and enormous satisfaction.
A visit to the Center Theatre Group's promo site
for the play is useful. Here Logan offers this précis of what Molina does to the written Mark Rothko. "Fred" the playwright calls the star, embodies "titanic anger, pomposity, seriousness, and rage, yet incredible sensitivity."
Logan's interview at the Music Center's website merits a couple of views for the writer's insights and the snippets of the characters measuring one another's understanding of things that come in red. There's another names-for-red scene that's even better. Wittgenstein would dig it.
It will be interesting to see where Logan takes his art from here. A big artist as subject, lofty romantic questions like "what is art?"make for high drama, deep tragedy. I'd like to see Logan make me laugh.
Red won't force tears so you'll exit the auditorium smiling that you've lived as part of an all-time great performance of a superb play. Red runs at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum through September 9, directed by Michael Grandage.Banned Books Update: One Month Until...
Countdown to Special Master Report: One month until September 21, 2012.Status Quo:
The People of the State of Arizona, complicity with Tucson Unified School District, persist in exercising the State's and Board's Constitutional power to ban books.
In northern Los Angeles environs, Tia Chucha's Bookstore and Centro Cultural have become Librotraficantes
. The centro hosts a fund raiser and book drive in conjunction with the release of the Special Master Report.
Here's how Tia Chucha's Facebook page
describes the 9/21 event:Tia Chucha's, now a Los Angeles LibroTraficante, invites you to join us as we host a discussion of the anti-migrant hysteria gripping Arizona and celebrate culture and palabra!
This will also be a fundraiser for the Raza Defense Fund and a banned book drive! Your book donations will be used to set up community libraries in the local area and beyond!for a list of banned books go here: http://librotraficante.com/images/BannedListAnnotatedBibliography.pdf
Visit Tia Chucha's website
for details and scheduling. Events include a discussion featuring banned authors Rudy Acuna and Luis Rodriguez, and an Open Mic.Mexican Cultural Institute Gallery Show of Movimiento History
Tourists strolling El Lay's Olvera Street looking for Pancho Lopez--if they know Lalo Guerrero's old song--will count themselves informed and fortunate to find the increasingly popular gallery of the Mexican Cultural Institute. Here's how the MCI
describes its current effort:Organized by the Chicano Resource Center of Los Angeles, this mixed media exhibit features more than 100 photographs, videos, paintings and archival documents relation of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Includes a special tribute to "Women of the Movement Then and Now".
Exhibit open Thursdays through Sundays, 1 to 6 pm. Through September 9.
Galería MCI is located in the basement of the Biscailuz Building at El Pueblo/Olvera Street.La Bloga On-Line Floricanto • Penultimate Tuesday of August 2012
Frank de Jesus Acosta, Francisco X Alarcón, Seeyouma Nahash'Chid, John Martinez, Nancy Aidé González
"Warrior Poets Rise" by Frank de Jesus Acosta
"Poetas Puentes" / "Bridge Poets" by Francisco X Alarcón
"Dzil Yijin/Black Mountain" by Seeyouma Nahash'Chid
"Our silence is that we don't know their names" by John Martinez
"Coatl" by Nancy Aidé GonzálezWarrior Poets Rise!by Frank De Jesus Acosta
The stories flowing thru you are worthy to be told
Set them free to strum a dormant heart-chord searching for its song
Your words are an ancestor’s spirit voice returning in wisdom
Your verse is soulful flor y canto ascending in sacred smoke
The unfinished stanza of a departed relative’s poem
The stories, requiems, & prayers of the warrior poet
Are a confluence of hearts, minds, & souls
Weaving the distal corners of creation, history, & prophesy
Forming one great hoop of nations and relatives upon earth
Flesh & spirit, 7 generations merging past, present, & future
Let your words rise and flow in transformative love
Lifting up the highest virtues of our collective humanity
Rise Warrior Poets; Rise!BRIDGE POETS / POETAS PUENTESby Francisco X. Alarcón a los participantes de Poetas en el Puente: Manuel Luna, Ana Chig, Elizabeth Cazessús, Sonia Gutiérrez, Luis Gastélum, Sugar Born, Ricky Zamudio y Ensamble Wamba 12 de agosto de 2012 en Galería Mariposa/ Papillon TijuanaDzil Yijiin – Black MountainSeeyouma Nahash'chid
Why has it come to be for Dine’
Why has it come to be for Kiis’aanii
While we argue over this Holy Land
Corporate AmeriKa rapes our Earth Mother of her seeds
They have turned Kiis’aanii against Dine’
Dzil Yijiin extended so high
Visualized high above where it touches Father Sky
This is our existence
The ancestors home
The Clan people of the Dine’ and Kiss’aanii
Our home of our sacred Indigenous tradition
Our sacred Indigenous heritage
This place where our ancestors spirits roam
Dzil Yijiin cannot be separated from its relations
Yet Corporate AmeriKa does not care
They only want to ravage the sacredness of Dzil Yijiin
Committing devastation and great sacrileges
This most sacred of holy places
Binds the Dine’ and Kiis’aanii to this land of their birth
Dzil Yijiin cannot be separated from its relations
The four sacred mountains
They represent the holy ways of Dine' and Kiis'aanii
In our tongue
There is no word for relocation
How can you stop our sacred ceremonies
Our daily obligations
On the top of Dzil Yijiin
We make our appropriate offerings, songs, and prayers
In this sacred way
Our offerings and prayers will keep us strong
How can we leave our sacred place of offerings
We are tied to this Holy Land
With out this Holy Land
Dine’ and Kiis’aanii would not be able to survive
We cannot just walk away from Creator’s gift
We would be disgraced
This Corporate AmeriKa is always devising some evil way
To steal and take what is not theirs
They are willing to tear our Earth Mother's belly apart
They strip our Mother's flesh and kill the air
To nourish their greed
Clan people we must stand together as one
In order to survive as part of our Mother's very heart
Clan people we are connected to this Holy Land
We will not be moved like the sheep we herd
Here we are known by the Holy Spirit beings
In this sacred way we will sing our blessingway song
Clan people stand in unity
This is our country
Our beauty way Our Silence Is That We Don't Know Their Namesby John Martinez
She is locked in a hope chest
In the back of a Van
Crunched, in a fetal position,
She listens to her own breathing,
Thinking of her Mother mending
Her Quinceañera dress,
Of her father hammering
On a tin roof
In the desert the cactus hum
A separate melody, One of sun, sky
And small drops of water,
But without water, without air,
She will blend into the dark square,
Her name never comes through
His feet burned into tongues
That lapped the floor of the desert,
Feeling around for his place,
His lips cracked into crushed glass,
His throat, a tunnel of misplaced echoes,
His name never comes through,
But I know them both.
I also know the child with flower petal hands,
Sleeping on his starving Mother
She remembers when
He was born on a winter night,
Steam rose from her vagina,
His life warmed her that day, but today,
He is a small tremor, sandpaper hair,
Eyes, half open like a broken doll,
His name never comes through
We know of these tragedies, all of us,
As we tuck into our fortunate lives,
We know their howling,
When the clouds bunch over
Our perfect dens, they reach for us,
Their tears fall like rain
Onto our stucco houses,
Our silence is that
We don’t know their names Coatlby Nancy Aidé González
By Nancy Aidé González
Healing undulating wisdom
illusions shed scales
spitting strength in desert sand
sibilant forked tongue flicking
through blurring abstractions
shed old habits
through spiral paths of modification
changing static rivers of time
opaque blue eyes stare
snake medicine, I drink. BIOS
"Warrior Poets Rise" by Frank de Jesus Acosta
"Poetas Puentes" / "Bridge Poets" by Francisco X Alarcón
"Dzil Yijin/Black Mountain" by Seeyouma Nahash'Chid
"Our silence is that we don't know their names" by John Martinez
"Coatl" by Nancy Aidé González
A graduate of UCLA, Frank de Jesus Acosta is the principal at Acosta & Associates, a California-based consultant group specializing in professional services targeting philanthropic, non-profit, and government institutions. A&A specializes in public and private social change ventures in the areas of violence prevention, community development, cultural fluency initiatives, and policy development. Recent clients include Walking Shield, Local Initiatives Support Council (LISC), The California Community Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, California Endowment, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), Policy Link, The City Project, Institute for Community Peace, and Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos. Acosta’s professional experience includes leadership tenures with: The California Wellness Foundation; the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA); the Center for Community Change; and the UCLA Community Programs Office. In 2007, Acosta authored, “The History of the Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos Community Peace Movement,” Arte Publico Press, University of Houston.
Nancy Aidé González is a Chicana poet who lives in Lodi, California. She graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature in 2000. Her work has appeared in Calaveras Station Literary Journal, La Bloga, Everyday Other Things, Mujeres De Maiz Zine, and La Peregrina. She is a participating member of Escritores del Nuevo Sol, a writing group based in Sacramento, California which honors the literary traditions of Chicano, Latino, Indigenous and Spanish-language peoples.
Working like mad, really enjoying every moment. Finally settling into the new routine with Henry at school. In fact it's proving to be a lot easier than over the Summer where I could get interrupted any moment. I think the pencils will all be done within 3 weeks, hoping less!
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Endeavor’s Memorable Fly-by: Outer Space in the Backyard
The early morning light lured me outside to take in the view on a sharp wintry day in Redlands. It was one of those early Sunday mornings I was home from school. I looked up at the noisy sky. Our home lay under the flight path of San Bernardino’s Norton Air Force Base. In the 1960s, Norton moved millions of tons of materiel from Berdoo to Vietnam aboard gigantic C-141 jets. First thing in the morning, C-141s painted black as if draped in mourning crepe, lifted off from Norton. Every fifteen minutes their roaring overhead signaled the Military Airlift Command’s efficiency. Their roar sounded an ominous reminder the Draft was looking for me, and thousands of teenagers more. I went back inside.
I was looking up at the sky again this week when the Space Shuttle rode piggy back across my backyard bit of sky, Mt. Wilso n’s radio towers above for background. I heard them before I knew them, as nothing ordinary roars with the power that rumbled my house in a sonic earthquake of harmonic sounds. And then it was gone from sight and I stared through empty space at the mountain.
Space. The final frontier. “What does ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ mean?” my kindergarten granddaughter, Charlotte, asks. This is the only time this event will happen, and you got to see it, I enthuse. Charlotte understands this event has never happened before, and will never happen again. So do her classmates. All the kindergarteners waved their arms and jumped around and went "ahgghh" when the big airplane and the little ones, too, cruised past, low and slow.
What a grand way for these 5-year olds to enter their space age. Last Spring, Charlotte declared when she grows up she will be a dancer and a scientist. She's going to make marvels. The space shuttle fly-by marks the end of one era, the launch of the next era of space. Her generation will build on what people of my generation, born in the aftermath of WWII, got to see from the raw beginnings.
When I was in kindergarten, space was airplanes out of Norton. I now and again stood in my backyard staring up at the noisy propeller planes cruising to and from the base. Hands cupped to mouth, I'd shout up, “Hey! Is Hairy Ass Truman in that plane?”
My dad worked at Norton. Once in a while he’d take me into the hangar where he did sheet metal. We'd go in the side door, past the time clock. Inside, the hard light filling open hangar doors silhouettes the hulking C-124 in eye-squinting contrast against the open sky. There were no wings. My father explained how the whole thing comes apart. I didn’t think about that. He fixed the holes in the airplane’s skin, and he also replaced the wings. Every time one of those beasts flew overhead in those days, I smiled. That was my dad’s handiwork in that airplane.
The space race took off in junior high, when the Russians got to space first with Sputnik. A U.S. answer, the Vanguard satellite, was built in Redlands, at Grand Central Rocket Company. The first launch was a spectacular disaster. The rocket exploded on the pad hurling the sofball-sized Vanguard onto the beach. The satellite came to rest beeping impotently in the Cape Canaveral surf. A classmate's dad built the Vanguard satellite. The man walked up to the beeping gold ball wanting a gun to put Vanguard out of its misery. Beep beep beep. Five years later, groups of us high school kids would stare up into a nightime summer sky and name communications satellites whizzing by.
Rocket science found a way to make weapons out of satellites. Many of these were launched from Lompoc, California’s Vandenberg AFB, just north of Santa Barbara. College years, the drive up the parkway from Goleta to UCSB, seeing the “pregnant guppy” was common. It was the cargo plane that ferried rocket motors up the coast to Lompoc. On campus, I lived in a decrepit structure overlooking the swamp and airfield. The roar of a pregnant guppy echoed the sounds of Redlands.
The first person to walk on the moon did it on black and white television in the middle of the day. I watched Armstrong from a bar stool in Hwaak-ni, Korea, where I had arrived the afternoon before the moonwalk, my fourth day overseas.
On the ride up to Bravo Battery the day before, the deuce and a half had bounced past a Korean man plowing a rice paddy with an ox, ankle-deep in brown water that looked like wet shit. It was; human caca. The wind blew in our direction. In the thick humidity, the incredible stink clung to my sweaty fatigues and penetrated deep into my nose filling my head with the smell of the third world.
And there, sitting next to me in the Admin Area bar, wearing his homespun traditional hemp fiber traje, was that farmer. As the ville did not have electricity, the Battery Commander invited the locals to share the event, and he'd taken a day off. If I’d had any money, I would have bought that farmer a twenty-five cent beer. “A small step for a man…” Talk about a “giant leap” for humankind.
Serving on a mountain armed with rocket ships named the “Homing All the Way Killer,” the HAWK anti-aircraft missile, never struck me as outer spacey, except for that farmer. And when the wind blew up the valley. Yet, the space age was everywhere—that missile system is a big lethal computer.
I saw my first zip-lock bag at Bravo—the missile parts arrived in them. I experienced space age adhesives when Robledo, a vato from San Anto, glued my fingers together with the stuff warheads are glued onto the rocket ship with. Instead of cranking a phone, I learned to whistle up a 60 Hz tone. "Wheeoouuuu" click; just like that the mountain is connected to anywhere in the world. It’s definitely space age to be buzzed by a MiG out of nowhere, then be knocked to the ground by a low-sweeping Air Force Phantom. “It if flies, it dies,” is an Air Defense Artillery mottto I remembered as that huge lumbering jet crossed the sky on its way to JPL.
Menso me. I’d decided I have plenty of space age memories and didn't need to photograph the Space Shuttle. The fly-by itself cannot be contained in a prosthesis for memory, and bla bla bla. As the flight comes into view and sweeps painfully briefly across the mountain vista, I jump excitedly and go "ahgghh." My waving arms feel the absence of the lens in my hand. The Shuttle does not return for a second fly-by. That’s what once in a lifetime means.Banned Books Update in Limbo
Tucson schools has consistently failed to develop an acceptable desegregation program for over 20 years. As a result, the Federal Court maintains supervision over the district. A key element is the Special Master appointed to develop methods to help TUSD meet its obligations under the U.S. Constitution.
The Special Master could order the schools to reinstitute the Mexican American Studies program that was banned along with all those beautiful books. Or, the Special Master could suggest a framework and toss the ball to negotiators from TUSD and the community and let them battle out the details of a lawful "Unitary Status Plan" or USP. Here's the Special Master's job description:
Although the Special Masters Report was, evidently, released on 9/21, the document won't be in public view until at least September 27, 2012, when the document will be released in English and Spanish.
In the background come rumblings of discord entre Chicana Chicano Democrats that could split the local movement apart. Inklings of a krypto coalition between racists and putatively moderate raza politicians point to a festering infection in the movimiento. Signs of the ugly schism include TUSD's decision to re-hire Superintendent Pedicone and pay him a big fat bonus.
La Bloga's Banned Books Update is digging for details and will report on this ugly development when there is concrete information to report.email inboxNewly Literate Gente
La Bloga's Inbox this week has this from Vanessa Acosta of Cultural Arts Tours & Workshops, forwarding great news for America: more Americans in the United States can read and write now.
Here's the news from The Centro Latino for Literacy:
email inboxIn Manhattan: Casa Azul Bookstore
t's graduation time at Centro Latino! This Friday, Sept 28th, Manos Amigas will celebrate a record 155 newly literate adults who will receive their completion certificates. They range in age from 19-73 and 69% are women. Their native countries include Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize and Peru. 33% speak an indigenous language, including Quiche, Canjobal, Mam,and Zapoteco.
There's still time to purchase a ticket or make a contribution. Contributors Reception starts at 5:00 and the graduation is at 6:30 p.m For more information and to purchase tickets or donate on-line visitwww.centrolatinoliteracy.org/manos-amigas
|Sergio Troncoso, Tony Diaz, Martín Espada, Melinda Palacio, Luis Alberto Urrea|
Bloguera and Librotraficante Melinda Palacio read at Casa Azul Bookstore
last week, along with several La Bloga friends, recognizing efforts by librotraficantes to smuggle banned books into Arizona and wherever democracy has broken down. The event in NYC will not be a rare ritual but one element in an entrepreneurial strategy to keep literacy alive.
The Inbox this week has this from La Bloga friend Sergio Troncoso, news of Casa Azul's ongoing program of readings.Please come and support a new independent bookstore in Manhattan, La Casa Azul Bookstore, at 143 East 103rd Street, at the corner of Lexington Avenue. I'll be reading from my two books published in 2011 with the poet Renato Rosaldo:
Reading with Sergio Troncoso and Renato Rosaldo Thursday September 27, 6:00 - 8:00pm
Sergio Troncoso debates and challenges us on the mystery of familias, how they determine our identity and how we break free of them, from fatherhood to interfaith marriage to educating our children. From Tucson to the Philippines, from Palo Alto to Manhattan, Renato Rosaldo's readable poems tell of illness and racism, love and death—all in vivid tones. Savor these poems, slowly, what you inbibe will engage and enrich you.http://www.lacasaazulbookstore.com/Fall's First On-Line Floricanto
Francisco X. Alarcón, Tara Evonne Trudell, John Martinez, David Romero, Abyss Borboa-Olivera
"New Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2B" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Nuevo Enorme Agujero Negro Nombrado SB 1070-2B" por Francisco X. Alarcón
"De Colores of SB 1070" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"He Had the Smile of a Healer" by John Martinez
"Sweet Pocho Pie" by David Romero
"I Resign Myself" by Abyss Borboa-Olivera
"Renuncio a Mi" por Abyss Borboa-OliveraNew Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2Bby Francisco X. Alarcón
|Photo of Andromeda Galaxy by Clifton Reed: “This is the culmination of a lot of work, effort and study. You have my permission to use it any way you wish. BTW--this object is 2.5 million light years away. The time it took the light to travel here is older than human beings.”|
a new huge
at the center
light years away
has been named
today after Arizona
law SB 1070–2B
“this is the largest
blackhole we have
ever found in space
it swallows all matter
and even light can’t
escape its huge pull;
because it is a dark
force that we can only
detect by its gravity
we have named it
SB 1070-2B for being
as ‘dark’ as the new law”
© Francisco X. Alarcón 2012Nuevo Enorme Agujero Negro Nombrado SB 1070-2Bpor Francisco X. Alarcón
un nuevo enorme
de la Galaxia
a 2.5 millones
de años luz
de la Tierra
ha sido nombrado
SB 1070–2B como
la ley de Arizona
“este el mayor
agujero negro jamás
descubierto en el espacio
absorbe toda materia
y no deja que ni la luz
se escape de su imán
porque es una fuerza
oscura que solo podemos
detectar por su gravedad
la hemos nombrado
SB 1070-2B por ser tan
‘oscura’ como la nueva ley”
© Francisco X. Alarcón 2012De Colores of SB 1070by Tara Evonne Trudell
into spirit wind
based on the color
you were born
her pink dress
grey nail polish
in a manicured war
the other way
rainbows to follow
their ever changing
of nazi mentality
of ancestors cries
under brown skin
the people must speak
fast and slow
and in their control
on the border
shot for throwing stones
for being brown
in news feeds
to not care
between the lines
until the colors
© Tara Evonne Trudell 2012
He Had the Smile of a Healerby John Martinez
There was nothing
More to do,
Than to pick up
The picket sign,
Sand underneath us,
A cloudless baby
The grape pan,
Into the row.
We stopped picking
Because the chanting
Told us to stop,
We stopped picking,
Because it was time
And my father saw
The shitty money
Empty from his eyes,
The Foreman, with his white
Of a desert face;
He was counting
But we dropped
Our grape knives
And picked up
The picket signs
Huelga, Huelga, Huelga!
And we marched
On the tar,
Softened by the sun,
Carrying our Clorox
With frozen water.
We knew then,
That we were
That what we felt
About this field,
Was felt by others,
We were going to fight,
Because we could
Feel the poison
From the Crop Dusters
In our lungs,
Blurring our eyes,
Tightning our jaws
Because we knew
It was wrong
To work children,
With the sun,
Like a knife
On our backs,
To pay near nothing
For scorched knees
And burned faces
But this man,
He came to save us,
Yes, this man,
Dressed In School
Brown face like ours,
Black hair like ours,
He had the smile
Of a healer.
© John Martinez 2012Sweet Pocho Pieby David Romero
I’m as American as sweet pocho pie
Light flaky crust
Identity crisis inside
Like apples to oranges
We are pochos
Children of these lands claimed
Ambassadors of a great American immigration
That often doesn’t want us
Our ancestors were criminalized for speaking Spanish
Yet, we’re expected to speak it without an accent
Expected to fit a stereotypical appearance
While Spanish stations display the opposite
Ask a career professional on a Latino panel
How to succeed in America and they will answer
“Remember: you’re a professional first
As if the two were mutually exclusive
Pochos pronounce their last names wrong
Argue this has become right
My name is Romero becomes ROW-MARROW
Rolling rs seem as silly as caricatures of twirling mustaches
Saying my own name properly makes me feel like Zorro
Pochos can know more about African American history
Than their own
It can politicize them
Relating to the status of outsider
Like Detroit Red becoming Malcolm X
Or like a boy named Sue with something to prove
Pochos can make for the best of activists
Carrying chips on their shoulders
The size of boulders
Emblazoned scrolls upon these read
“Insecurity” “shame” and “guilt”
Enough for long marches and late nights
To connect with the people
They are ambassadors to America
For a great immigration
That often doesn’t want them
Teases them bare and naked
Points out how tenuous their relationship
To being a Latino is
How it so easily crumbles
Like a soft crust
More apple than orange
Sweet pocho pie
“Sold out” here
“Gringo! Gringa! Gringo!” They cry
Some pochos are sliced into a permanent state of denial
Cut themselves white or “other” for charts
Others go on a journey of discovery of their Latin roots
With all of the subtlety and discretion of Christopher Colombus
Leaving division and destruction in their wake
Promises of a piece of the pie with nothing inside
That’s why some in our communities fear us
Who are we?
Ambassadors to a great immigration
In an America that’s constantly changing
The children you wanted to have a better life
Then got mad at for having
The pochos you didn’t want
The pochos you taunt
For trying to be everything to everyone
We laugh, dance, scream, sing, argue and smile
We taste sweet as pocho pie
Smell the air
Look at the crowd
Feast upon their eyes
America loves sweet pocho pie
© David Romero 2012I Resign Myselfby Abyss Borboa-Olivera
I resign myself
to be blind to the all truth
I resign to false humility
I resign to lists of demands
I resign to good intentions
if there is no action to prevail
if there is no work to understand
if there is no country to take care of.
I resign to call you brother
if you don’t walk next to me
if you don’t fight for your freedom
to stand wholeheartedly beside me.
I resign to the fake liberty we have
or the censorship that censors our minds
I resign to keep dreaming
if tomorrow never comes.
I resign to be awake early
if I’m a wealthy gentleman
even when I read the newspaper
knowing that my government
has killed an innocent man.
I resign to be invited to your table
wishing for all the women to be alive
I resign to discuss prices
if you don’t know the price of life.
I resign to be a patriot
if I don’t raise my voice with yours
asking for tolerance for our women
that have no freedom or another choice.
I resign to be a poet
if I don’t stand for what I believe
I believe that a cause has get started
and you have been in complicity
because you don’t want to fight
in what we have called reality.
I resign myself
If I have the words to fight for thee
I resign myself
If you haven’t noticed our autonomy.
Our and our women’s freedom
depends upon a dream
showing to the world we can fight together
raising our voices to reality;
we fight together
and together we should be
to show that our hope starts
when people start to believe.
© Abyss Borboa-Olivera 2012
***********************************Renuncio a Mipor Abyss Borboa-Olivera
Renuncio a mí mismo
a ser ciego ante toda verdad
reuncio a la falsa humildad
renuncio a los pliegos petitorios
renuncio a las buenas intenciones
si no hay acción que prevalezca
si no hay trabajo que se entienda
si no hay un país que cuidar.
Reuncio a llamarte mi hermano
si tú no caminas a mi lado
si tú no luchas por tu libertad
de seguir completamente conmigo.
Renuncio a la falsa libertad que tenemos
a la censura que amaña nuestra mente
renuncio a seguir soñando
si el mañana no es para siempre.
Reuncio a despertar temprano
si soy un hombre acaudalado
aún cuando lea las noticias
sabiendo que el gobierno
a un hombre inocente ha encarcelado.
Renuncio ser invitado a tu mesa
deseando que todas las muejeres no estén muertas
renuncio a discutir los precios
si no conoces el precio de la libertad
Renuncio a ser un patriota
si no levanto mi voz con la tuya
exigiendo tolerancia para nuestras mujeres
que no tienen libertad ni esperanza.
Renuncio a ser poeta
si no tengo las palabras para luchar por ellas
renuncio a mí mismo
si aún no te das cuenta de nuestra autonomía.
La libertad nuestra y de nuestras mujeres
depende de un sueño inalcanzable
para mostrarle al mundo que luchamos juntos
alzando nuestras voices a las realidades
y juntos debemos estar
para mostrar que nuestra esperenza comienza
cuando la gente comience a pensar.
© Abyss Borboa-Olivera 2012BIOS
"New Huge Galactic Blackhole Named After SB 1070-2B" by Francisco X. Alarcón
"Nuevo Enorme Agujero Negro Nombrado SB 1070-2B" por Francisco X. Alarcón
"De Colores of SB 1070" by Tara Evonne Trudell
"He Had the Smile of a Healer" by John Martinez
"Sweet Pocho Pie" by David Romero
"I Resign Myself" by Abyss Borboa-Olivera
"Renuncio a Mi" por Abyss Borboa-Olivera
Francisco X. Alarcón (was born in Los Angeles, in 1954) is the author of twelve volumes of poetry, including, From the Other Side of Night: Selected and New Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002). His latest book is Ce•Uno•One: Poemas para el Nuevo Sol/Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010). His most recent book of bilingual poetry for children is Animal Poems of the Iguazú (Children’s Book Press 2008). He has been a finalist nominated for Poet Laureate of California in two occasions. He teaches at the University of California, Davis. He recently created a new Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 that is getting lots of poetry submissions and comments. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Poets-Responding-to-SB-1070/117494558268757?ref=ts
John Martinez studied Creative Writing at Fresno State University. He has published poetry in El Tecolote, Red Trapeze and The LA Weekly. Recently, he has posted poems on Poets Responding to SB1070 and this will be his 12th poem published in La Bloga. He has performed (as a musician/political activist, poet) with Teatro De La Tierra, Los Perros Del Pueblo and TROKA, a Poetry Ensemble (lead by poet Juan Felipe Herrera) and he has toured with several cumbia bands throughout the Central Valley and Los Angeles. For the last 17 years, he has worked as an Administrator for a Los Angeles Law Firm. He makes home in Upland, California with his wife, Rosa America y Familia.
David A. Romero is an artist, activist and male model.
Romero is the author of Diamond Bars: The Street Version and Fuzhou, two collections of poems released by Dimlights Publishing. His work has been praised by writers and poets such as the Tony Award winner Poetri, the author of Up the Street Around the Corner Besskepp, and the West Coast Editor of Rock & Rap Confidential Lee Ballinger.
Romero has opened for Latin Grammy winning artists Ozomatli and Latin Grammy nominated artists La Santa Cecilia. He has featured alongside Taalam Acey as well as with a number of HBO Def Poets, including: Beau Sia, Paul Mabon and Thea Monyee.
Romero is the host of Between the Bars Open Mic at the dba256 Gallery Wine Bar in Pomona, CA.
Romero teaches writing and performance workshops on spoken word poetry. His many themes and prompts include: Poetry - The Language of Protest and Mementos & Metaphors - Poems of Family and Identity. Romero has led workshops for the Say What? Teen Poetry program of the Los Angeles Public Library, high school activists at the Santa Monica Mountains Peace Camp and students at the Juvenile Detention and Assessment Centers in San Bernardino, CA.
In April 2012, Romero collaborated with the Nogales High School Poetry Club to produce their first book, F-5. Later that year, he collaborated with the Say What? Teen Poetry program of the Los Angeles Public Library to produce a book of poems written by Angeleno middle and high school students.
Romero is an artist affiliate of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) and a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade (RPB).
"I enjoy performing funny poems, but I hope that after the laughs, people can stay and listen to the messages that I am spreading with my poetry against racism, against prejudice, against imperialism, against labor exploitation and against economic injustice. I believe in a world free from hunger or any other kind of scarcity."
Romero is a graduate of the University of Southern California, a double major in Film and Philosophy.
Check out his blog, "The Mexi-Asian Perspective: A Mexican's Guide to All Things Latin, Asian, or Both," on www.projektnewspeak.com
. Visit his website, http://www.davidaromero.com/
Abyss Borboa Olivera, Poet, writer, actor and director for ENTRETELONES Theater Group, was born in February 1977 in Tijuana, Mexico. He studied Lengua y Literatura de Hispanoamérica at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California. He is a Professor at Universidad Tecnológica de Tijuana, and teaches literature at Preparatoria Federal Lázaro Cárdenas.
ACABALLOMÓNTAME by Proyecto Existir 2004.
TÚ ERES EL HOMBRE PENSADO by Lulu 2012.
MUERTES ESCRITAS by Lulu Editorial. 2012.
POST-MORTEM by Lulu Editorial. 2011
BENIGNA; DETRÁS DE TI by Lulu Editorial. 2012
Most of his work is based on Women and Gender as an ideological paradigm.